Role of Interfacial Conditions on Blast Overpressure Propagation Into the Brain

Front Neurol. 2020 Apr 28;11:323. doi: 10.3389/fneur.2020.00323. eCollection 2020.


The complex interfacial condition between the human brain and the skull has been difficult to emulate in a surrogate system. Surrogate head models have typically been built using a homogeneous viscoelastic material to represent the brain, but the effect of different interfacial conditions between the brain and the skull on pressure transduction into the brain during blast has not been studied. In the present work, three interfacial conditions were generated in physical surrogate human head models. The first surrogate consisted of a gel brain separated from the skull by a layer of saline solution similar in thickness to the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) layer in the human head: the fluid interface head model. The second surrogate head had the entire cranial cavity filled with the gel: the fixed interface head model. The third surrogate head contained a space-filling gel brain wrapped in a thin plastic film: the stick-slip interface head model. The human head surrogates were evaluated in a series of frontal blast tests to characterize the effect of skull-brain interfacial conditions on overpressure propagation into the gel brains. The fixed and the stick-slip interface head models showed nearly equal peak brain overpressures. In contrast, the fluid interface head model had much higher in-brain peak overpressures than the other two models, thus representing the largest transmission of forces into the gel brain. Given that the elevated peak overpressures occurred only in the fluid interface head model, the presence of the saline layer is likely responsible for this increase. This phenomenon is hypothesized to be attributed to the incompressibility of the saline and/or the impedance differences between the materials. The fixed interface head model showed pronounced high frequency energy content relative to the other two models, implying that the fluid and the stick-slip conditions provided better dampening. The cumulative impulse energy entering the three brain models were similar, suggesting that the interface conditions do not affect the total energy transmission over the positive phase duration of a blast event. This study shows that the fidelity of the surrogate human head models would improve with a CSF-emulating liquid layer.

Keywords: Cerebral spinal fluid; fluid-solid interaction; human surrogate; interfacial conditions; overpressure propagation; surrogate brain; surrogate headform.