Research Papers

Linear and Angular Head Acceleration Measurements in Collegiate Football

[+] Author and Article Information
Steven Rowson

Center for Injury Biomechanics, Virginia Tech-Wake Forest, Blacksburg, VA 24061

Gunnar Brolinson

 Edward Via Virginia College of Osteopathic Medicine, Blacksburg, VA 24061

Mike Goforth, Dave Dietter

Department of Sports Medicine, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA 24061

Stefan Duma

Center for Injury Biomechanics, Virginia Tech-Wake Forest, Blacksburg, 24061

J Biomech Eng 131(6), 061016 (May 12, 2009) (7 pages) doi:10.1115/1.3130454 History: Received July 14, 2008; Revised March 17, 2009; Published May 12, 2009

Each year, between 1.6×106 and 3.8×106 concussions are sustained by athletes playing sports, with football having the highest incidence. The high number of concussions in football provides a unique opportunity to collect biomechanical data to characterize mild traumatic brain injury. Human head acceleration data for a range of impact severities were collected by instrumenting the helmets of collegiate football players with accelerometers. The helmets of ten Virginia Tech football players were instrumented with measurement devices for every game and practice for the 2007 football season. The measurement devices recorded linear and angular accelerations about each of the three axes of the head. Data for each impact were downloaded wirelessly to a sideline data collection system shortly after each impact occurred. Data were collected for 1712 impacts, creating a large and unbiased data set. While a majority of the impacts were of relatively low severity (<30g and <2000rad/s2), 172 impacts were greater than 40 g and 143 impacts were greater than 3000rad/s2. No instrumented player sustained a clinically diagnosed concussion during the 2007 season. A large and unbiased data set was compiled by instrumenting the helmets of collegiate football players. Football provides a unique opportunity to collect head acceleration data of varying severity from human volunteers. The addition of concurrent concussive data may advance the understanding of the mechanics of mild traumatic brain injury. With an increased understanding of the biomechanics of head impacts in collegiate football and human tolerance to head acceleration, better equipment can be designed to prevent head injuries.

Copyright © 2009 by American Society of Mechanical Engineers
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Figure 1

Instrumented helmets communicate wirelessly with a computer on the sideline

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Figure 2

SAE J211 headform coordinate system

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Figure 3

Distributions of linear and angular accelerations

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Figure 4

Distributions of linear accelerations about each axis of the head

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Figure 5

Distributions of angular acceleration about each axis of the head

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Figure 6

Distribution of impact locations broken into back, front, left, right, and top bins. Bins are defined in the top right corner of the histogram.

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Figure 7

Average linear acceleration response for the 1712 impacts. The average impact duration was 14 ms.

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Figure 8

Relationship between angular change in velocity of the head versus peak linear acceleration (left). Relationship between change in angular velocity of the head and peak angular acceleration (right).

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Figure 9

Comparison of accelerations collected with the 6DOF measurement device during the 2007 Virginia Tech football season and the original HITS measurement device during the 2003–2006 seasons

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Figure 10

Peak angular acceleration as a function of peak linear acceleration. The VT data suggest that no correlation exists (R2=0.25). The dashed line overlays the correlation reported by the NFL study.




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