Mechanical characterization of brain tissue at high loading velocities is particularly important for modelling Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). During severe impact conditions, brain tissue experiences a mixture of compression, tension and shear. Diffuse axonal injury (DAI) occurs in animals and humans when the strains and strain rates exceed 10% and 10/s, respectively. Knowing the mechanical properties of brain tissue at these strains and strain rates is thus of particular importance, as they can be used in finite element simulations to predict the occurrence of brain injuries under different impact conditions.

In this research, uniaxial tensile tests at strain rates of 30, 60 and 90/s up to 30% strain and stress relaxation tests in tension at various strain magnitudes (10%–60%) with an average rise time of 24 ms were performed. The brain tissue showed a stiffer response with increasing strain rates, showing that hyperelastic models are not adequate and that viscoelastic models are required. Specifically, the tensile engineering stress at 30% strain was 3.1 ± 0.49 kPa, 4.3 ± 0.86 kPa, 6.5 ± 0.76 kPa (mean ± SD) at strain rates of 30, 60 and 90/s, respectively. The Prony parameters were estimated from the relaxation data. Numerical simulations were performed using a one-term Ogden model to analyze hyperelastic and viscoelastic behavior of brain tissue up to 30% strain. The material parameters obtained in this study will help to develop biofidelic human brain finite element models, which subsequently can be used to predict brain injuries under impact conditions.

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