Investigation of wave propagation through head layers with focus on understanding blast wave transmission

  • Sunil Sutar
  • S. GanpuleEmail author
Original Paper


Blast-induced traumatic brain injury (bTBI) is a critical health concern. This issue is being addressed in terms of identifying a cause–effect relationship between the mechanical insult in the form of a blast and resulting injury to the brain. Understanding wave propagation through the head is an important aspect in this regard. The objective of this work was to study the blast wave propagation through the layered architecture of the head with an emphasis on understanding the wave transmission mechanism. Toward this end, one-dimensional (1D) finite element head model is built for a simplified surrogate, human, and rat. Motivated from experimental investigations, four different head layer configurations have been considered. These configurations are: (A) Skull–Brain, (B) Skin–Skull–Brain, (C) Skin–Skull–Dura–Arachnoid–CSF-Pia-Brain, (D) Skin–Skull–Dura–Arachnoid–AT-Pia-Brain. The validated head model is subjected to flattop and Friedlander loading implied in the blast, and the resulting response is evaluated in terms of brain pressures. Our results suggest that wave propagation through head parenchyma plays an important role in blast wave transmission. The thickness, material properties of head layers, and rise time of an input pulse govern the temporal evolution of pressure in the brain. The key findings of this work are: (a) Skin and meninges amplify the applied input pressure, whereas air sinus has an attenuation effect. (b) Model is able to describe experimentally recorded peak pressures and rise times in the brain, including variations within the aforementioned experimental head models of TBI. This reinforces that the wave transmission is an important loading pathway to the brain. (c) Equivalent layer theory for modeling meningeal layers as a single layer has been proposed, and it gives reasonable agreement with each meningeal layer modeled explicitly. This modeling approach has a great utility in 3D head models. The potential applications of 1D head model in evaluation of new helmet materials, brain sensor calibration, and brain pressure estimation for a given explosive strength have also been demonstrated. Overall, these results provide important insights into the understanding of mechanics of blast wave transmission in the head.


Blast TBI Wave propagation Transmission mechanism Head model Helmet 



Blast-induced traumatic brain injury


Blast overpressure


Intracranial pressure


Postmortem human subject


Subarachnoid space


Cerebrospinal fluid


Arachnoid trabeculae


Dura matter


Arachnoid matter


Pia matter



SG acknowledges financial support from the Department of Science and Technology (DST) under the grant ECR-2017-000417. SS acknowledges fellowship from the Ministry of Human Resource Development. We also thank the anonymous reviewers for their constructive suggestions.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

10237_2019_1256_MOESM1_ESM.docx (175 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 174 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Mechanical and Industrial EngineeringIndian Institute of Technology RoorkeeRoorkeeIndia

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