For a better understanding of traumatic bone fractures, knowledge of the mechanical behavior of bone at high strain rates is required. Importantly, it needs to be clarified how quasistatic mechanical testing experiments relate to real bone fracture. This merits investigating the mechanical behavior of bone with an increase in strain rate. Various studies examined how cortical and trabecular bone behave at varying strain rates, but no one has yet looked at this question using individual trabeculae. In this study, three-point bending tests were carried out on bovine single trabeculae excised from a proximal femur to test the trabecular material's strain rate sensitivity. An experimental setup was designed, capable of measuring local strains at the surface of such small specimens, using digital image correlation. Microdamage was detected using the bone whitening effect. Samples were tested through two orders of magnitude, at strain rates varying between 0.01 and 3.39 s−1. No linear relationship was observed between the strain rate and the Young's modulus (1.13–16.46 GPa), the amount of microdamage, the maximum tensile strain at failure (14.22–61.65%) and at microdamage initiation (1.95–12.29%). The results obtained in this study conflict with previous studies reporting various trends for macroscopic cortical and trabecular bone samples with an increase in strain rate. This discrepancy might be explained by the bone type, the small sample geometry, the limited range of strain rates tested here, the type of loading and the method of microdamage detection. Based on the results of this study, the strain rate can be ignored when modeling trabecular bone.
Keywords: Strain rate; Microdamage; Strain; Three-point bending; Trabeculae