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Trauma Mechanics

BioMechanics and Materials Laboratory


 Research at the Biomechanics and Materials Laboratory at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln mainly focuses on basic understanding of mechanisms of TBI at various length and time scales using computations and experiments. A unique in-house shock tube testing facility, along with high fidelity simulations, enables us to investigate and understand a wide variety of issues associated with TBI. The laboratory also collaborates with clinicians, biologist and surgeons across the country.


Blast Wave Interaction with the Head and Helmet

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Numerical modeling used to predict the stresses experienced by the brain.

Blast induced traumatic brain injury (bTBI) is signature injury in recent combat scenarios involving improvised explosive devices (IEDs). A recent RAND report estimates that 320,000 service members or 20% of the deployed force (1.6 million) potentially suffer from TBI. In Afghanistan and Iraq, about two-thirds of patients with TBI were documented to have been wearing protective equipment at the time of injury. Though helmets provide protection against ballistic and impact loading, it is unlikely that they provide protection against blast. The main goal of this project is to understand the role of helmet/s under blast loading conditions.

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Blast Wave Modeling With Rats

Rat Model Layers

A supersonic blast wave or shock blast induces an instantaneous increase in atmospheric pressure and causes what is called primary blast injury. Modeling blasts’ effects on rats may help to characterize and understand its mechanisms and so we have begun using three dimensional finite element models of a rat brains and heads to simulate controlled cortical impacts (CCI) and blast loading. Models are developed from MRI images using Avizo© and Mimics13©.

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Brain and Skull Modeling

Modeling and simulation activities are becoming increasingly important in the area of brain biomechanics with application to primary blast injury (PBI). Although current FE head models include a detailed geometrical description of the head's intracranial contents, there is a crucial lack of material models for the brain which are appropriate to use in blast scenarios analysis, e.g., over a large strain/ very high frequency range.

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Skull Thumb

Cellular Modeling and Experiments

An external mechanical load will first cause the mechanical deformation of neurons, and then, when this deformation reaches to a critical point (threshold), it will initiate the chemical/biological response. The chemical/biological response can cause the neuronal function loss—neuronal injury. This process is considered to be the mechanism of the mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) at the cellular level. Understanding the relationship between the neuronal mechanical response and their biological responses is the first important step to understanding the mechanism of mTBI.

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