A study of the response of the human cadaver head to impact

Stapp Car Crash J. 2007 Oct;51:17-80.


High-speed biplane x-ray and neutral density targets were used to examine brain displacement and deformation during impact. Relative motion, maximum principal strain, maximum shear strain, and intracranial pressure were measured in thirty-five impacts using eight human cadaver head and neck specimens. The effect of a helmet was evaluated. During impact, local brain tissue tends to keep its position and shape with respect to the inertial frame, resulting in relative motion between the brain and skull and deformation of the brain. The local brain motions tend to follow looping patterns. Similar patterns are observed for impact in different planes, with some degree of posterior-anterior and right-left symmetry. Peak coup pressure and pressure rate increase with increasing linear acceleration, but coup pressure pulse duration decreases. Peak average maximum principal strain and maximum shear are on the order of 0.09 for CFC 60 Hz data for these tests. Peak average maximum principal strain and maximum shear decrease with increasing linear acceleration, coup pressure, and coup pressure rate. Linear and angular acceleration of the head are reduced with use of a helmet, but strain increases. These results can be used for the validation of finite element models of the human head.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain Injuries / etiology
  • Brain Injuries / physiopathology*
  • Brain Injuries / prevention & control
  • Computer Simulation*
  • Head Protective Devices
  • Humans
  • Intracranial Pressure
  • Models, Biological*