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Chapter 11 - Development of a coupled physical–computational methodology for the investigation of infant head injury

Jones, M.D., Khalid, G.A. and Prabhu, Raj K. 2021. Chapter 11 - Development of a coupled physical–computational methodology for the investigation of infant head injury. In: Prabhu, Raj K. ed. Multiscale Biomechanical Modeling of the Brain, Mara Conner, pp. 177-192. (10.1016/B978-0-12-818144-7.00011-6)

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Establishing whether an infant’s traumatic head injury results from an accidental or nonaccidental, abusive cause is a fundamental question in forensic investigations. Often practitioners are provided with either “no explanation” of the cause of the presenting injuries or only a brief description of a causal event, and therefore, struggle to establish a sufficiently detailed understanding of a cause-and-effect relationship with which to make a differential diagnosis. The head may be injured by many different mechanisms. Therefore, developing a necessary knowledge of the cause from practical experience and epidemiology alone is a significant challenge since there are very many biomechanical variables that require consideration. Experimentation with living infants is impossible, and infant cadaver availability is limited and problematic, and hence, modeling is an obvious path. Presented is the development of a coupled physical–computational modeling methodology for the investigation of infant head injury. A physical surrogate infant head was created from high-resolution computer tomography scans with tissue material properties closely matched to tissue response data. An infant skull was 3D-printed from co-polymer materials and the brain, represented as a lumped mass, comprised of an injected gelatin/water mix. Experimental head impact responses were validated against Postmortem human surrogate (PMHS) head impact acceleration data. High speed digital image correlation optically measured linear and angular velocities and accelerations, strains, and strain rates. The “global approximation,” derived from the PMHS head impact acceleration data, was challenged by comparing regional and local acceleration data. The validated physical infant head surrogate, producing “real world” global, regional, and localized impact response data, was used to inform a computational finite element-head copy of the physical head model that was validated against the PMHS and physical model global impact response data. Experimental impact simulations were performed to investigate regional and localized injury vulnerability. Different regions of the head produced accelerations significantly greater than those calculated using the currently available method of measuring the “global” physical whole head response. The majority of material strain was produced within the relatively elastic suture and fontanelle regions rather than the skull bones. A subsequent parametric analysis was conducted to provide a correlation between fall height and areas of the maximum stress response. The coupled methodology shows significant potential for the study of infant head injury and is anticipated to be a motivating tool for the improvement of head injury understanding across a range of potentially injurious head loading scenarios. The methodology has proven a significant new step in characterizing and understanding infant head injury mechanics.

Item Type: Book Section
Date Type: Published Online
Status: Published
Schools: Engineering
Publisher: Mara Conner
ISBN: 978-0-12-818144-7
Last Modified: 15 Mar 2022 16:00

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