A computational head–neck model was developed to test the hypothesis that increases in friction between the head and impact surface will increase head and neck injury risk during near-axial impact. The model consisted of rigid vertebrae interconnected by assemblies of nonlinear springs and dashpots, and a finite element shell model of the skull. For frictionless impact surfaces, the model reproduced the kinematics and kinetics observed in near-axial impacts to cadaveric head–neck specimens. Increases in the coefficient of friction between the head and impact surface over a range from 0.0 to 1.0 resulted in increases of up to 40, 113, 9.8, and 43% in peak post-buckled resultant neck forces, peak moment at the occiput-C1 joint, peak resultant head accelerations, and HIC values, respectively. The most dramatic increases in injury-predicting quantities occurred for COF increases from 0.0 to 0.2, while further COF increases above 0.5 generally produced only nominal changes. These data suggest that safety equipment and impact environments which minimize the friction between the head and impact surface may reduce the risk of head and neck injury in near-vertex head impact.
Keywords: Friction; Impact; Modeling; Cervical spine; Head