[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) occurs when a mechanical insult produces damage to the brain and disrupts its normal function. Numerical head models are often used as tools to analyze TBIs and to measure injury based on mechanical parameters. However, the reliability of such models depends on the incorporation of an appropriate level of structural detail and accurate representation of the material behavior. Since recent studies have shown that several brain regions are characterized by a marked anisotropy, constitutive equations should account for the orientation-dependence within the brain. Nevertheless, in most of the current models brain tissue is considered as completely isotropic. To study the influence of the anisotropy on the mechanical response of the brain, a head model that incorporates the orientation of neural fibers is used and compared with a fully isotropic model. A simulation of a concussive impact based on a sport accident illustrates that significantly lowered strains in the axonal direction as well as increased maximum principal strains are detected for anisotropic regions of the brain. Thus, the orientation-dependence strongly affects the response of the brain tissue. When anisotropy of the whole brain is taken into account, deformation spreads out and white matter is particularly affected. The introduction of local axonal orientations and fiber distribution into the material model is crucial to reliably address the strains occurring during an impact and should be considered in numerical head models for potentially more accurate predictions of brain injury.
Journal of Biomechanics 01/2014; 47(5). DOI:10.1016/j.jbiomech.2013.12.036 · 2.50 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The length scales involved in the development of diffuse axonal injury typically range from the head level (i.e., mechanical loading) to the cellular level. The parts of the brain that are vulnerable to this type of injury are mainly the brainstem and the corpus callosum, which are regions with highly anisotropically oriented axons. Within these parts, discrete axonal injuries occur mainly where the axons have to deviate from their main course due to the presence of an inclusion. The aim of this study is to predict axonal strains as a result of a mechanical load at the macroscopic head level. For this, a multi-scale finite element approach is adopted, in which a macro-level head model and a micro-level critical volume element are coupled. The results show that the axonal strains cannot be trivially correlated to the tissue strain without taking into account the axonal orientations, which indicates that the heterogeneities at the cellular level play an important role in brain injury and reliable predictions thereof. In addition to the multi-scale approach, it is shown that a novel anisotropic equivalent strain measure can be used to assess these micro-scale effects from head-level simulations only.
Biomechanics and Modeling in Mechanobiology 03/2012; DOI:10.1007/s10237-012-0387-6 · 3.25 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Different length scales from micrometers to several decimeters play an important role in diffuse axonal injury. The kinematics at the head level result in local impairments at the cellular level. Finite element methods can be used for predicting brain injury caused by a mechanical loading of the head. Because of its oriented microstructure, the sensitivity of brain tissue to a mechanical load can be expected to be orientation dependent. However, the criteria for injury that are currently used at the tissue level in finite element head models are isotropic and therefore do not consider this orientation dependence, which might inhibit a reliable assessment of injury. In this study, an anisotropic brain injury criterion is developed that is able to describe the effects of the oriented microstructure based on micromechanical simulations. The effects of both the main axonal direction and of local deviations from this direction are accounted for. With the anisotropic criterion for brain injury, computational head models will be able to account for aspects of diffuse axonal injury at the cellular level and can therefore more reliably predict injury.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Multiple length scales are involved in the development of traumatic brain injury, where the global mechanics of the head level are responsible for local physiological impairment of brain cells. In this study, a relation between the mechanical state at the tissue level and the cellular level is established. A model has been developed that is based on pathological observations of local axonal injury. The model contains axons surrounding an obstacle (e.g., a blood vessel or a brain soma). The axons, which are described by an anisotropic fiber-reinforced material model, have several physically different orientations. The results of the simulations reveal axonal strains being higher than the applied maximum principal tissue strain. For anisotropic brain tissue with a relatively stiff inclusion, the relative logarithmic strain increase is above 60%. Furthermore, it is concluded that individual axons oriented away from the main axonal direction at a specific site can be subjected to even higher axonal strains in a stress-driven process, e.g., invoked by inertial forces in the brain. These axons can have a logarithmic strain of about 2.5 times the maximum logarithmic strain of the axons in the main axonal direction over the complete range of loading directions. The results indicate that cellular level heterogeneities have an important influence on the axonal strain, leading to an orientation and location-dependent sensitivity of the tissue to mechanical loads. Therefore, these effects should be accounted for in injury assessments relying on finite element head models.
Biomechanics and Modeling in Mechanobiology 06/2011; 10(3):413-22. DOI:10.1007/s10237-010-0243-5 · 3.25 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Traumatic brain injury (TBI) can be caused by accidents and often leads to permanent health issues or even death. Brain injury criteria are used for assessing the probability of TBI, if a certain mechanical load is applied. The currently used injury criteria in the automotive industry are based on global head kinematics. New methods, based on finite element modeling, use brain injury criteria at lower scale levels, e.g., tissue-based injury criteria. However, most current computational head models lack the anatomical details of the cerebrum. To investigate the influence of the morphologic heterogeneities of the cerebral cortex, a numerical model of a representative part of the cerebral cortex with a detailed geometry has been developed. Several different geometries containing gyri and sulci have been developed for this model. Also, a homogeneous geometry has been made to analyze the relative importance of the heterogeneities. The loading conditions are based on a computational head model simulation. The results of this model indicate that the heterogeneities have an influence on the equivalent stress. The maximum equivalent stress in the heterogeneous models is increased by a factor of about 1.3-1.9 with respect to the homogeneous model, whereas the mean equivalent stress is increased by at most 10%. This implies that tissue-based injury criteria may not be accurately applied to most computational head models used nowadays, which do not account for sulci and gyri.