A Method for Evaluating Brain Deformation under Sagittal Blunt Impacts Using a Half-Skull Human-Scale Surrogate

Michael Hanna, Abdus Ali, Michael Klienberger, Bryan J. Pfister

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Trauma to the brain is a biomechanical problem where the initiating event is a dynamic loading (blunt, inertial, blast) to the head. To understand the relationship between the mechanical parameters of the injury and the spatial and temporal deformation patterns in the brain, there is a need to develop a reusable and adaptable experimental traumatic brain injury (TBI) model that can measure brain motion under varying parameters. In this effort, we aim to directly measure brain deformation (strain and strain rates) in different brain regions in a human head model using a drop tower. Methods: Physical head models consisting of a half, sagittal plane skull, brain, and neck were constructed and subjected to crown and frontal impacts at two impact speeds. All tests were recorded with a high-speed camera at 1000 frames per second. Motion of visual markers within brain surrogates were used to track deformations and calculate spatial strain histories in 6 brain regions of interest. Principal strains, strain rates and strain impulses were calculated and reported. Results: Higher impact velocities corresponded to higher strain values across all impact scenarios. Crown impacts were characterized by high, long duration strains distributed across the parietal, frontal and hippocampal regions whereas frontal impacts were characterized by sharply rising and falling strains primarily found in the parietal, frontal, hippocampal and occipital regions. High strain rates were associated with short durations and impulses indicating fast but short-lived strains. 2.23 m/s (5 mph) crown impacts resulted in 53% of the brain with shear strains higher than 0.15 verses 32% for frontal impacts. Conclusions: The results reveal large differences in the spatial and temporal strain responses between crown and forehead impacts. Overall, the results suggest that for the same speed, crown impact leads to higher magnitude strain patterns than a frontal impact. The data provided by this model provides unique insight into the spatial and temporal deformation patterns that have not been provided by alternate surrogate models. The model can be used to investigate how anatomical, material and loading features and parameters can affect deformation patterns in specific regions of interest in the brain.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number061003
JournalJournal of Biomechanical Engineering
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Physiology (medical)


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