The effects of low energy impacts on the head and neck system, particularly within sporting scenarios.

Lead Research Organisation: University of Edinburgh
Department Name: Sch of Engineering


The need for more efficient head protection gear, such as sports helmets, hard hats and military helmets, for different environments is essential. The risk of serious injuries or trauma from accelerations (linear and angular) and strains induced from low energy impacts on the head is very high, as can be demonstrated from recent events related, for example, to American Football, Rugby or Cricket. The development of evaluation methods that can predict injuries and trauma, ensuring that the user can resist a specific impact, is therefore of major importance.

The study of the effects of low energy impacts in head, helmet and neck systems will allow the development of new and improved materials and layouts for head protection systems. Numerical methods and experimental analysis are fundamental tools in this process. Consequently, the scientific goals of this project will be supported by numerical simulation (finite elements analysis), experimental analysis and energy-based analytical methods. The main aims and objectives of the project are to better understand the wave propagation mechanisms in the helmet, head and neck system, to develop methods to better assess the level and probability of induced head injury and trauma and to propose ways to improve protection and lower injury levels based on the use of new energy absorption materials.


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
EP/N509644/1 01/10/2016 30/09/2021
1941216 Studentship EP/N509644/1 01/04/2017 31/10/2020 Kathleen McGill
Description A series of computer models of an average (male) human head has been developed, and are in the process of validation and testing. The series represents the brain and intracranial tissues to various levels of details and with different behavioural properties taken from literature applied to them. Testing is investigating what influence each level of detail has on simulation results for the same impact sets. By understanding this, the model series can be optimised to an efficient but effective simulation tool for investigating the effect of collisions in sporting environments on the brain.
Exploitation Route The models could be applied to data-sets describing impacts recorded on the sporting field. The outputs of these, with advice from neuroscience and medical sectors could add to knowledge around the effects of head impacts/accelerations aiding the understanding, prevention and management of concussion type injuries. They could be further developed to consider the effects of other physical properties of the head, pertaining to size, age and/or gender to consider how demographics experience head impacts.
Sectors Leisure Activities, including Sports, Recreation and Tourism,Other

Description European Society of Biomechanics Annual Conference, Vienna 2019 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact A presentation was given on work within the research effort at the conference. The audience mainly comprised of other researchers from similar backgrounds. The presentation sparked discussion around both the current work, the testing process and potential future applications. A separate research group expressed an interest in collaborations to apply the model to wider data sets. The presentation opportunity to this audience confirmed the value and validity of the current research within this academic environment.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019