Dynamic Response of the Human Head to Impact by Three-Dimensional Finite Element Analysis

[+] Author and Article Information
J. S. Ruan, T. Khalil, A. I. King

Bioengineering Center, Wayne State University, Detroit, MI 48202

J Biomech Eng 116(1), 44-50 (Feb 01, 1994) (7 pages) doi:10.1115/1.2895703 History: Received April 12, 1992; Revised January 07, 1993; Online March 17, 2008


The impact response of the human head has been determined by three-dimensional finite element modeling. This model represents the essential features of a 50th percentile human head. It includes a layered shell closely representing the cranial bones with the interior contents occupied by an inviscid continuum to simulate the brain. A thin fluid layer was included to represent the cerebral-spinal fluid. To validate the model, its response was obtained by applying a sine-squared pulse of 6.8 kN in magnitude and 10 ms in duration. The load was applied to a freely supported head on the frontal bone in the midsagittal plane. The computed pressure-time histories at 5 locations within the brain material compared quite favorably with previously published experimental data from cadaver experiments and provided a reasonable level of confidence in the validation of the model. A parametric study was subsequently conducted to identify the model response when the impact site (frontal, side, occipital) and the material properties of the head were varied. Interestingly, the model predicted higher contre-coup pressure in the frontal lobe (from occipital impact) than that predicted in the occipital region from frontal impact. This finding supports clinical findings of contre-coup injury being more likely to result from occipital impact than from frontal impact.

Copyright © 1994 by The American Society of Mechanical Engineers
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