Evaluation of Brain Response during Head Impact in Youth Athletes Using an Anatomically Accurate Finite Element Model

Logan E. Miller, Jillian E. Urban, Mireille E. Kelley, Alexander K. Powers, Christopher T. Whitlow, Joseph A. Maldjian, Steven Rowson, Joel D. Stitzel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


During normal participation in football, players are exposed to repetitive subconcussive head impacts, or impacts that do not result in signs and symptoms of concussion. To better understand the effects of repetitive subconcussive impacts, the biomechanics of on-field head impacts and resulting brain deformation need to be well characterized. The current study evaluates local brain response to typical youth football head impacts using the atlas-based brain model (ABM), an anatomically accurate brain finite element (FE) model. Head impact kinematic data were collected from three local youth football teams using the Head Impact Telemetry (HIT) System. The azimuth and elevation angles were used to identify impacts near six locations of interest, and low, moderate, and high acceleration magnitudes (5th, 50th, and 95th percentiles, respectively) were calculated from the grouped impacts for FE simulation. Strain response in the brain was evaluated by examining the range and peak maximum principal strain (MPS) values in each element. A total of 40,538 impacts from 119 individual athletes were analyzed. Impacts to the facemask resulted in 0.18 MPS for the high magnitude impact category. This was 1.5 times greater than the oblique impact location, which resulted in the lowest strain value of 0.12 for high magnitude impacts. Overall, higher strains resulted from a 95th percentile lateral impact (41.0g, 2556 rad/sec 2 ) with two predominant axes of rotation than from a 95th percentile frontal impact (67.6g, 2641 rad/sec 2 ) with a single predominant axis of rotation. These findings highlight the importance of accounting for directional dependence and relative contribution of axes of rotation when evaluating head impact response.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1561-1570
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of neurotrauma
Issue number10
StatePublished - May 15 2019


  • FE model
  • HITS
  • brain injury
  • strain
  • youth football

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology


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