A finite element model of the foot and ankle for automotive impact applications

Ann Biomed Eng. 2012 Dec;40(12):2519-31. doi: 10.1007/s10439-012-0607-3. Epub 2012 Jun 14.


A finite element (FE) model of the foot and leg was developed to improve understanding of injury mechanisms of the ankle and subtalar joints during vehicle collisions and to aid in the design of injury countermeasures. The FE model was developed based on the reconstructed geometry of a male volunteer close to the anthropometry of a 50th percentile male and a commercial anatomical database. While the forefoot bones were defined as rigid bodies connected by ligament models, the surrounding bones of the ankle and subtalar joints and the leg bones were modeled as deformable structures. The material and structural properties were selected based on a synthesis of current knowledge of the constitutive models for each tissue. The whole foot and leg model was validated in different loading conditions including forefoot impact, axial rotation, dorsiflexion, and combined loadings. Overall results obtained in the model validation indicated improved biofidelity relative to previous FE models. The developed model was used to investigate the injury tolerance of the ankle joint under brake pedal loading for internally and externally rotated feet. Ligament failures were predicted as the main source of injury in this loading condition. A 12% variation of failure moment was observed in the range of axial foot rotations (±15°). The most vulnerable position was the internally rotated (15°) posture among three different foot positions. Furthermore, the present foot and ankle model will be coupled together with other body region FE models into the state-of-art human FE model to be used in the field of automotive safety.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Accidents, Traffic*
  • Adult
  • Ankle / anatomy & histology*
  • Automobiles*
  • Finite Element Analysis
  • Foot / anatomy & histology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Models, Biological*
  • Range of Motion, Articular
  • Safety*