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Biomechanical Analysis of Fall Injuries using Finite Element Modeling

Time: Mon 2022-05-23 14.00

Location: Rappesalen, Alfred Nobels Allé 10, Huddinge

Language: English

Doctoral student: Pooya Sahandifar , Neuronik

Opponent: Professor Yunhua Luo, University of Manitoba: Winnipeg, Canada

Supervisor: Professor Svein Kleiven, Neuronik; Dr. Viveca Wallqvist, Department of Material and Surface Design, RISE Research Institutes of Sweden

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The thesis was carried out at the Neuronic Engineering unit, KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, Sweden. The thesis was funded by "BVFF – Bana väg för framtiden" (BVFF number 2016-025).

QC 2022-05-02


A fall is a serious health issue for the elderly. Among different fall types, the sideways fall is considered to be more severe concerning the injury outcome. When elderlies experience an unintentional sideways fall, they can either resist the impact forces with the soft tissue force attenuation capacity and femoral strength or need external protections to reduce the injury risk. In this thesis, these two aspects were investigated. Finite element whole-body models are valuable tools for analyzing fall biomechanics and investigating the possible preventive measures more conveniently. The whole-body models were developed to investigate traffic accidents; however, a sideways fall has different kinematics than the other types of accidents. Consequently, it is necessary to enhance the whole-body models according to the major fall parameters leading to severe injury cases before assessing the external protection capabilities.The current thesis attempted to advance these two critical aspects regarding fall-induced injuries. A finite element whole-body model was chosen to study three critical parameters in fall biomechanics: body posture, soft tissue, and femoral strength. The whole body model was positioned in different body configurations relevant for the sideways fall to evaluate the body posture that could lead to the highest internal forces on the femoral head. Next, different soft tissue constitutive material models and soft tissue thicknesses were investigated to find a material model that could accurately reproduce the experimental results according to an objective rating method named CORrelation and Analysis (CORA). Finally, the separate and combined effects of geometrical and mechanical properties change due to aging on femoral strength were assessed for the elderly males and females. In the second aspect of the thesis, the shock-absorbing rubberized asphalt pavements' preventive capacity was examined. First, different rubberized asphalt mixtures were implemented in a bicycle and a pedestrian accident reconstruction cases to evaluate the head injury risks. Later, the asphalt mixtures were studied in a sideways fall scenario to evaluate the hip fracture risk in an elderly male and female.

The first aspect of the thesis presented the results and methods to improve the sideways fall analysis, and the second aspect of the thesis focused on assessing the rubberized asphalt mixtures for injury prevention purposes. The sideways fall with the upright trunk and a slightly forward-tilted pelvis could lead to the highest internal forces. A nonlinear Ogden material model for muscle tissue and a Mooney-Rivlin material model for adipose tissue scored better among different soft tissue material models in the side impacts to the hip segments. The geometrical and mechanical properties change due to aging leading to a different behavior for males and females, where females experience a higher rate of strength loss due to aging. Moreover, it was indicated that a rubberized asphalt mixture could reduce the head injury risk for pedestrians and cyclists and the hip fracture risk for the elderly. The amount of rubber in the asphalt mixtures needs to exceed a specific limit to observe rubberized asphalts' preventive effects. Consequently, it is necessary to optimize the mixtures' rubber content to improve its prevention capacity.

In summary, the current thesis presented a method to improve the whole-body models according to the sideways fall requirements and assessed the protective capacity of the rubberized asphalt mixtures against head and hip injuries.