Measurements of Human Brain Displacement
Finite element models are increasingly important in understanding head injury mechanisms and designing new injury prevention equipment. Although boundary conditions strongly influence model responses, only limited quantitative data are available. While experimental studies revealed some motion between brain and skull, little data exists regarding the base of the skull. Using magnetic resonance images (MRI) of the caudal brain regions, we measured in vivo, quasi-static angular displacement of the cerebellum (CB) and brainstem (BS) relative to skull, and axial displacement of BS at the foramen magnum in supine human subjects (N=5). Images were obtained in flexion (7° – 54°) and neutral postures using SPAMM tagging technique (N=47 pairs). Rigid body skull rotation angle from neutral posture (θ, degrees) was determined by extracting the edge feature points of the skull, and rotating and displacing the coordinates in one image until they matched those in the other. Tissue rotation was obtained by comparing tag lines in image pairs before and after flexion, and the motion of BS and CB were expressed relative to skull rotation and displacement. During flexion, the CB rotated in the flexion direction, exceeding the skull rotation, but relative BS rotations were negligible. Meanwhile, the BS moved caudally toward the foramen magnum. With a flexion angle of 54°, the 95% confidence interval for the relative CB rotation was 2.7° – 4.3°, and 0.8 – 1.6mm for the relative BS axial displacement. Albeit quasi-static, this study provides important data that can be implemented to create more life-like boundary conditions in human finite element models.