Skull flexure from blast waves: a mechanism for brain injury with implications for helmet design

Phys Rev Lett. 2009 Sep 4;103(10):108702. doi: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.103.108702. Epub 2009 Sep 3.


Traumatic brain injury (TBI) has become a signature injury of current military conflicts, with debilitating, costly, and long-lasting effects. Although mechanisms by which head impacts cause TBI have been well researched, the mechanisms by which blasts cause TBI are not understood. From numerical hydrodynamic simulations, we have discovered that nonlethal blasts can induce sufficient skull flexure to generate potentially damaging loads in the brain, even without a head impact. The possibility that this mechanism may contribute to TBI has implications for injury diagnosis and armor design.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Brain / anatomy & histology
  • Brain / physiology
  • Brain Injuries / etiology
  • Brain Injuries / prevention & control*
  • Cerebrospinal Fluid / chemistry
  • Cerebrospinal Fluid / physiology
  • Computer Simulation
  • Elasticity
  • Equipment Design
  • Explosions*
  • Head Protective Devices / standards*
  • Humans
  • Models, Anatomic*
  • Skull / anatomy & histology
  • Skull / physiology
  • Tensile Strength