Browse Publications Technical Papers 2009-22-0008
2009-11-02

Experimental Study of Blast-Induced Traumatic Brain Injury Using a Physical Head Model 2009-22-0008

This study was conducted to quantify intracranial biomechanical responses and external blast overpressures using physical head model to understand the biomechanics of blast traumatic brain injury and to provide experimental data for computer simulation of blast-induced brain trauma. Ellipsoidal-shaped physical head models, made from 3-mm polycarbonate shell filled with Sylgard 527 silicon gel, were used. Six blast tests were conducted in frontal, side, and 45° oblique orientations. External blast overpressures and internal pressures were quantified with ballistic pressure sensors. Blast overpressures, ranging from 129.5 kPa to 769.3 kPa, were generated using a rigid cannon and 1.3 to 3.0 grams of pentaerythritol tetranitrate (PETN) plastic sheet explosive (explosive yield of 13.24 kJ and TNT equivalent mass of 2.87 grams for 3 grams of material). The PETN plastic sheet explosive consisted of 63% PETN powder, 29% plasticizer, and 8% nitrocellulose with a density of 1.48 g/cm3 and detonation velocity of 6.8 km/s. Propagation and reflection of the shockwave was captured using a shadowgraph technique. Shockwave speeds ranging from 423.3 m/s to 680.3 m/s were recorded. The model demonstrated a two-stage response: a pressure-dominant (overpressure) stage followed by kinematic-dominant (blast wind) stage. Positive pressures in the brain simulant ranged from 75.1 kPa to 1095 kPa, and negative pressures ranged from -43.6 kPa to -646.0 kPa. High- and normal-speed videos did not reveal observable deformations in the brain simulant from the neutral density markers embedded in the mid-sagittal plane of the head model. Amplitudes of the internal positive and negative pressures were found to linearly correlate with external overpressure. Results from the current study suggested a pressure-dominant brain injury mechanism instead of strain injury mechanism under the blast severity of the current study. These quantitative results also served as the validation and calibration data for computer simulation models of blast brain injuries.

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