Experimental testing on cervical spine ligaments provides important data for advanced numerical modeling and injury prediction; however, accurate characterization of individual ligament response and determination of average mechanical properties for specific ligaments has not been adequately addressed in the literature. Existing methods are limited by a number of arbitrary choices made during the curve fits that often misrepresent the characteristic shape response of the ligaments, which is important for incorporation into numerical models to produce a biofidelic response. A method was developed to represent the mechanical properties of individual ligaments using a piece-wise curve fit with first derivative continuity between adjacent regions. The method was applied to published data for cervical spine ligaments and preserved the shape response (toe, linear, and traumatic regions) up to failure, for strain rates of 0.5s(-1), 20s(-1), and 150-250s(-1), to determine the average force-displacement curves. Individual ligament coefficients of determination were 0.989 to 1.000 demonstrating excellent fit. This study produced a novel method in which a set of experimental ligament material property data exhibiting scatter was fit using a characteristic curve approach with a toe, linear, and traumatic region, as often observed in ligaments and tendons, and could be applied to other biological material data with a similar characteristic shape. The resultant average cervical spine ligament curves provide an accurate representation of the raw test data and the expected material property effects corresponding to varying deformation rates.
Keywords: Average; Cervical spine; Curve fit; Ligament; Material properties.
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