Blast-induced biomechanical loading of the rat: An experimental and anatomically accurate computational blast injury model

Aravind Sundaramurthy, Aaron Alai, Shailesh Ganpule, Aaron Holmberg, Erwan Plougonven, Namas Chandra

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

115 Scopus citations


Blast waves generated by improvised explosive devices (IEDs) cause traumatic brain injury (TBI) in soldiers and civilians. In vivo animal models that use shock tubes are extensively used in laboratories to simulate field conditions, to identify mechanisms of injury, and to develop injury thresholds. In this article, we place rats in different locations along the length of the shock tube (i.e., inside, outside, and near the exit), to examine the role of animal placement location (APL) in the biomechanical load experienced by the animal. We found that the biomechanical load on the brain and internal organs in the thoracic cavity (lungs and heart) varied significantly depending on the APL. When the specimen is positioned outside, organs in the thoracic cavity experience a higher pressure for a longer duration, in contrast to APL inside the shock tube. This in turn will possibly alter the injury type, severity, and lethality. We found that the optimal APL is where the Friedlander waveform is first formed inside the shock tube. Once the optimal APL was determined, the effect of the incident blast intensity on the surface and intracranial pressure was measured and analyzed. Noticeably, surface and intracranial pressure increases linearly with the incident peak overpressures, though surface pressures are significantly higher than the other two. Further, we developed and validated an anatomically accurate finite element model of the rat head. With this model, we determined that the main pathway of pressure transmission to the brain was through the skull and not through the snout; however, the snout plays a secondary role in diffracting the incoming blast wave towards the skull.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2352-2364
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Neurotrauma
Issue number13
StatePublished - Sep 1 2012
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Clinical Neurology


  • Finite element model
  • animal studies
  • military injury
  • rat


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