Do blast induced skull flexures result in axonal deformation?

Harsha T. Garimella, Reuben H. Kraft, Andrzej J. Przekwas

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21 Scopus citations


Subject-specific computer models (male and female) of the human head were used to investigate the possible axonal deformation resulting from the primary phase blast-induced skull flexures. The corresponding axonal tractography was explicitly incorporated into these finite element models using a recently developed technique based on the embedded finite element method. These models were subjected to extensive verification against experimental studies which examined their pressure and displacement response under a wide range of loading conditions. Once verified, a parametric study was developed to investigate the axonal deformation for a wide range of loading overpressures and directions as well as varying cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) material models. This study focuses on early times during a blast event, just as the shock transverses the skull (< 5 milliseconds). Corresponding boundary conditions were applied to eliminate the rotation effects and the resulting axonal deformation. A total of 138 simulations were developed± 128 simulations for studying the different loading scenarios and 10 simulations for studying the effects of CSF material model variance ±leading to a total of 10,702 simulation core hours. Extreme strains and strain rates along each of the fiber tracts in each of these scenarios were documented and presented here. The results suggest that the blast-induced skull flexures result in strain rates as high as 150±378 s-1. These high-strain rates of the axonal fiber tracts, caused by flexural displacement of the skull, could lead to a rate dependent micro-structural axonal damage, as pointed by other researchers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0190881
JournalPloS one
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General


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