Impact biomechanics

Virtually everyone who rides in a motor vehicle or in a jet aircraft has been and will continue to be affected by the research conducted by the Bioengineering Center. The current head injury criterion in Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) 208 is based on the Wayne State Tolerance Curve. The new requirement by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to strengthen aircraft seat anchors is based on a sled impact pulse developed at Wayne State University. Recently, Volvo introduced a side impact airbag, the design of which resulted in part from our side impact research data. These data are also part of the side impact dummy response specifications of the International Standards Organization. In fact, these data indicated that the Federal Side Impact Standard needed improvement in order to protect the human occupant and are part of the reason the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) have revisited this issue.

Current research efforts include experimental and analytical analyses of the impact responses, injury tolerances and injury mechanisms of the human body from head to foot. Using finite element modeling techniques, we have developed a human head model that is made up of more than 300,000 elements. The model has been validated against all available experimental data including relative motion between the brain and skull, captured using a high-speed biplane x-ray system, both with and without a helmet on the head. This model is being used to determine the threshold for concussion in American football and is being tested by various groups throughout the world in efforts to better protect pedestrians and vehicular occupants. In the neck region, rear-end impact, motor sports, and rollover are under investigation. In the chest region, the bi-axial properties of aortic tissue and traumatic rupture of the aorta are being examined. Additionally, emphasis has been placed on finding gender differences in chest impact response and injury thresholds of shoulder ligaments. In the abdominal region, constitutive equations for representation of solid organ response are under development. For the lower extremities, the impact responses of muscles and injury thresholds of knee ligaments and the foot are being studied. Each of these areas of research contributes to the ongoing development of a whole human body human model.

BME faculty members associated with research field:

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