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The challenges in developing a finite element injury model of the neck to predict the penetration of explosively propelled projectiles


Introduction Neck injuries sustained by UK service personnel serving on current operations from explosively propelled fragments result in significant mortality and long-term morbidity. Many of these injuries could potentially have been prevented had the soldiers been wearing their issued neck collars at the time of injury. The aim of this research is to develop an accurate method of predicting the resultant damage to cervical neurovascular structures from explosively propelled fragments.

Current status A finite element numerical model has been developed based on an anatomically accurate, anthropometrically representative 3D mathematical mesh of cervical neurovascular structures. Currently, the model simulates the passage of a fragment simulating projectile through all anatomical components of the neck using material models based upon 20% ballistic gelatin on the simplification that all tissue types act like homogenous muscle.

Future research The material models used to define the properties of each element within the model will be sequentially replaced by ones specific to each individual tissue within an anatomical structure. However, the cumulative effect of so many additional variables will necessitate experimental validation against both animal models and post-mortem human subjects to improve the credibility of any predictions made by the model. We believe this approach will in the future have the potential to enable objective comparisons between the mitigative effects of different body armour systems to be made with resultant time and financial savings.


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