This study was conducted to determine the biomechanics of the human head under quasistatic and dynamic loads. Twelve unembalmed intact human cadaver heads were tested to failure using an electrohydraulic testing device. Quasistatic loading was done at a rate of 2.5 mm/s. Impact loading tests were conducted at a rate of 7.1 to 8.0 m/s. Vertex, parietal, temporal, frontal, and occipital regions were selected as the loading sites. Pathological alterations were determined by pretest and posttest radiography, close-up computed tomography (CT) images, macroscopic evaluation, and defleshing techniques. Biomechanical force-deflection response, stiffness, and energy-absorbing characteristics were obtained. Results indicated the skull to have nonlinear structural response. The failure loads, deflections, stiffness, and energies ranged from 4.5 to 14.1 kN, 3.4 to 16.6 mm, 467 to 5867 N/mm, and 14.1 to 68.5 J, respectively. The overall mean values of these parameters for quasistatic and dynamic loads were 6.4 kN (±1.1), 12.0 mm (±1.6), 812 N/mm (±139), 33.5 J (±8.5), and 11.9 kN (±0.9), 5.8 mm (±1.0), 4023 N/mm (±541), 28.0 J (±5.1), respectively. It should be emphasized that these values do not account for the individual variations in the anatomical locations on the cranium of the specimens. While the X-rays and CT scans identified the fracture, the precise direction and location of the impact on the skull were not apparent in these images. Fracture widths were consistently wider at sites remote from the loading region. Consequently, based on retrospective images, it may not be appropriate to extrapolate the anatomical region that sustained the impact forces. The quantified biomechanical response parameters will assist in the development and validation of finite element models of head injury.
Keywords: biomechanics; dynamic loading; human tolerance; impact response; skull fracture; static loading