Numerical Reconstruction of Traumatic Brain Injury in Skiing and Snowboarding

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Abstract

Purpose

Proper evaluation of ski helmet designs and safety standards should rely on head impact conditions involved in skiing and snowboarding head injuries. To study these impacts, main crash scenarios involving head injuries are numerically replicated.

Methods

Multibody models of skiers and snowboarders were developed to investigate five common crash scenarios involved in traumatic brain injury: forward and sideways skiing falls, snowboarding backward falls, collisions between users and collisions with obstacles. For each scenario, the influence of crash conditions on head impact (location, speed, linear and rotational accelerations) and risk of injury are evaluated. Crash conditions were initial velocity, user height, position and approach angle, slope steepness, obstacles, and snow stiffness.

Results

One thousand one hundred forty-nine crashes were simulated and three significant levels of impact conditions were discriminated over the investigated crash scenarios: 1) the smallest normal-to-slope impact velocities (6 km·h−1; 22 km·h−1) and peak linear accelerations (42g; 75g) were obtained during forward and sideways skiing falls; 2) snowboarding backward falls and collisions between users were associated with high normal-to-surface impact velocities (26 km·h−1; 32 km·h−1) and head accelerations (80g; 149g) above one published threshold for mild traumatic brain injury but below the pass/fail criteria of helmet standard tests; 3) collisions with obstacles were associated with high normal-to-surface impact velocities (19 km·h−1; 35 km·h−1) and the highest head accelerations (626g; 1885g).

Conclusions

Current impact conditions of helmet standard evaluations consistently replicate collisions with obstacles, but need to be revised to better reflect other significant crash scenarios leading to traumatic brain injury.

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