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Jeffrey J. Chu and Graham E. Caldwell

Studies on shock attenuation during running have induced alterations in impact loading by imposing kinematic constraints, e.g., stride length changes. The role of shock attenuation mechanisms has been shown using mass-spring-damper (MSD) models, with spring stiffness related to impact shock dissipation. The present study altered the magnitude of impact loading by changing downhill surface grade, thus allowing runners to choose their own preferred kinematic patterns. We hypothesized that increasing downhill grade would cause concomitant increases in both impact shock and shock attenuation, and that MSD model stiffness values would reflect these increases. Ten experienced runners ran at 4.17 m/s on a treadmill at surface grades of 0% (level) to 12% downhill. Accelerometers were placed on the tibia and head, and reflective markers were used to register segmental kinematics. An MSD model was used in conjunction with head and tibial accelerations to determine head/arm/trunk center of mass (HATCOM) stiffness (K1), and lower extremity (LEGCOM) stiffness (K2) and damping (C). Participants responded to increases in downhill grade in one of two ways. Group LowSA had lower peak tibial accelerations but greater peak head accelerations than Group HighSA, and thus had lower shock attenuation. LowSA also showed greater joint extension at heelstrike, higher HATCOM heelstrike velocity, reduced K1 stiffness, and decreased damping than HighSA. The differences between groups were exaggerated at the steeper downhill grades. The separate responses may be due to conflicts between the requirements of controlling HATCOM kinematics and shock attenuation. LowSA needed greater joint extension to resist their higher HATCOM heelstrike velocities, but a consequence of this strategy was the reduced ability to attenuate shock with the lower extremity joints during early stance. With lower HATCOM impact velocities, the HighSA runners were able to adopt a strategy that gave more control of shock attenuation, especially at the steepest grades.

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Jonathan G. Beckwith, Jeffrey J. Chu, and Richard M. Greenwald

Although the epidemiology and mechanics of concussion in sports have been investigated for many years, the biomechanical factors that contribute to mild traumatic brain injury remain unclear because of the difficulties in measuring impact events in the field. The purpose of this study was to validate an instrumented boxing headgear (IBH) that can be used to measure impact severity and location during play. The instrumented boxing headgear data were processed to determine linear and rotational acceleration at the head center of gravity, impact location, and impact severity metrics, such as the Head Injury Criterion (HIC) and Gadd Severity Index (GSI). The instrumented boxing headgear was fitted to a Hybrid III (HIII) head form and impacted with a weighted pendulum to characterize accuracy and repeatability. Fifty-six impacts over 3 speeds and 5 locations were used to simulate blows most commonly observed in boxing. A high correlation between the HIII and instrumented boxing headgear was established for peak linear and rotational acceleration (r 2 = 0.91), HIC (r 2 = 0.88), and GSI (r 2 = 0.89). Mean location error was 9.7 ± 5.2°. Based on this study, the IBH is a valid system for measuring head acceleration and impact location that can be integrated into training and competition.

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Steven Rowson, Jonathan G. Beckwith, Jeffrey J. Chu, Daniel S. Leonard, Richard M. Greenwald, and Stefan M. Duma

The high incidence rate of concussions in football provides a unique opportunity to collect biomechanical data to characterize mild traumatic brain injury. The goal of this study was to validate a six degree of freedom (6DOF) measurement device with 12 single-axis accelerometers that uses a novel algorithm to compute linear and angular head accelerations for each axis of the head. The 6DOF device can be integrated into existing football helmets and is capable of wireless data transmission. A football helmet equipped with the 6DOF device was fitted to a Hybrid III head instrumented with a 9 accelerometer array. The helmet was impacted using a pneumatic linear impactor. Hybrid III head accelerations were compared with that of the 6DOF device. For all impacts, peak Hybrid III head accelerations ranged from 24 g to 176 g and 1,506 rad/s2 to 14,431 rad/s2. Average errors for peak linear and angular head acceleration were 1% ± 18% and 3% ± 24%, respectively. The average RMS error of the temporal response for each impact was 12.5 g and 907 rad/s2.

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Joseph J. Crisco, Bethany J. Wilcox, Jason T. Machan, Thomas W. McAllister, Ann-Christine Duhaime, Stefan M. Duma, Steven Rowson, Jonathan G. Beckwith, Jeffrey J. Chu, and Richard M. Greenwald

The purpose of this study was to quantify the severity of head impacts sustained by individual collegiate football players and to investigate differences between impacts sustained during practice and game sessions, as well as by player position and impact location. Head impacts (N = 184,358) were analyzed for 254 collegiate players at three collegiate institutions. In practice, the 50th and 95th percentile values for individual players were 20.0 g and 49.5 g for peak linear acceleration, 1187 rad/s2 and 3147 rad/s2 for peak rotational acceleration, and 13.4 and 29.9 for HITsp, respectively. Only the 95th percentile HITsp increased significantly in games compared with practices (8.4%, p = .0002). Player position and impact location were the largest factors associated with differences in head impacts. Running backs consistently sustained the greatest impact magnitudes. Peak linear accelerations were greatest for impacts to the top of the helmet, whereas rotational accelerations were greatest for impacts to the front and back. The findings of this study provide essential data for future investigations that aim to establish the correlations between head impact exposure, acute brain injury, and long-term cognitive deficits.