Browse Publications Technical Papers 2021-22-0006

Instantaneous Brain Strain Estimation for Automotive Head Impacts via Deep Learning 2021-22-0006

Efficient brain strain estimation is critical for routine application of a head injury model. Lately, a convolutional neural network (CNN) has been successfully developed to estimate spatially detailed brain strains instantly and accurately in contact sports. Here, we extend its application to automotive head impacts, where impact profiles are typically more complex with longer durations. Head impact kinematics (N=458) from two public databases were used to generate augmented impacts (N=2694). They were simulated using the anisotropic Worcester Head Injury Model (WHIM) V1.0, which provided baseline elementwise peak maximum principal strain (MPS). For each augmented impact, rotational velocity (vrot) and the corresponding rotational acceleration (arot) profiles were concatenated as static images to serve as CNN input. Three training strategies were evaluated: 1) “baseline”, using random initial weights; 2) “transfer learning”, using weight transfer from a previous CNN model trained on head impacts drawn from contact sports; and 3) “combined training”, combining previous training data from contact sports (N=5661) for training. The combined training achieved the best performances. For peak MPS, the CNN achieved a coefficient of determination (R2) of 0.932 and root mean squared error (RMSE) of 0.031 for the real-world testing dataset. It also achieved a success rate of 60.5% and 94.8% for elementwise MPS, where the linear regression slope, k, and correlation coefficient, r, between estimated and simulated MPS did not deviate from 1.0 (when identical) by more than 0.1 and 0.2, respectively. Cumulative strain damage measure (CSDM) from the CNN estimation was also highly accurate compared to those from direct simulation across a range of thresholds (R2 of 0.899-0.943 with RMSE of 0.054-0.069). Finally, the CNN achieved an average k and r of 0.98±0.12 and 0.90±0.07, respectively, for six reconstructed car crash impacts drawn from two other sources independent of the training dataset. Importantly, the CNN is able to efficiently estimate elementwise MPS with sufficient accuracy while conventional kinematic injury metrics cannot. Therefore, the CNN has the potential to supersede current kinematic injury metrics that can only approximate a global peak MPS or CSDM. The CNN technique developed here may offer enhanced utility in the design and development of head protective countermeasures, including in the automotive industry. This is the first study aimed at instantly estimating spatially detailed brain strains for automotive head impacts, which employs >8.8 thousand impact simulations generated from ~1.5 years of nonstop computations on a high-performance computing platform.


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