Psychology, Department of


Date of this Version



Annals of Biomedical Engineering 40:1 (January 2012), pp. 1–13;

doi: 10.1007/s10439-011-0392-4


© 2011 Biomedical Engineering Society. Used by permission.


Recent research has suggested a possible link between sports-related concussions and neurodegen-erative processes, highlighting the importance of developing methods to accurately quantify head impact tolerance. The use of kinematic parameters of the head to predict brain injury has been sug-gested because they are indicative of the inertial response of the brain. The objective of this study is to characterize the rotational kinematics of the head associated with concussive impacts using a large head acceleration dataset collected from human subjects. The helmets of 335 football players were instrumented with accelerometer arrays that measured head acceleration following head impacts sustained during play, resulting in data for 300,977 subconcussive and 57 concussive head impacts. The average subconcussive impact had a rotational acceleration of 1230 rad/s2 and a rotational ve-locity of 5.5 rad/s, while the average concussive impact had a rotational acceleration of 5022 rad/s2 and a rotational velocity of 22.3 rad/s. An injury risk curve was developed and a nominal injury value of 6383 rad/s2 associated with 28.3 rad/s represents 50% risk of concussion. These data provide an increased understanding of the biomechanics associated with concussion, and they provide critical insight into injury mechanisms, human tolerance to mechanical stimuli, and injury prevention tech-niques.

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