Compressive Mechanical Properties of Porcine Brain: Experimentation and Modeling of the Tissue Hydration Effects
Prabhu, R., Begonia, M., Whittington, W. R., Murphy, M. A., Mao, Y., Liao, J., Williams, L. N., Horstemeyer, M., & Sheng, J. (2019). Compressive Mechanical Properties of Porcine Brain: Experimentation and Modeling of the Tissue Hydration Effects. Bioengineering. 6(2), 40. DOI:10.3390/bioengineering6020040.
Designing protective systems for the human head—and, hence, the brain—requires understanding the brain’s microstructural response to mechanical insults. We present the behavior of wet and dry porcine brain undergoing quasi-static and high strain rate mechanical deformations to unravel the effect of hydration on the brain’s biomechanics. Here, native ‘wet’ brain samples contained ~80% (mass/mass) water content and ‘dry’ brain samples contained ~0% (mass/mass) water content. First, the wet brain incurred a large initial peak stress that was not exhibited by the dry brain. Second, stress levels for the dry brain were greater than the wet brain. Third, the dry brain stress–strain behavior was characteristic of ductile materials with a yield point and work hardening; however, the wet brain showed a typical concave inflection that is often manifested by polymers. Finally, finite element analysis (FEA) of the brain’s high strain rate response for samples with various proportions of water and dry brain showed that water played a major role in the initial hardening trend. Therefore, hydration level plays a key role in brain tissue micromechanics, and the incorporation of this hydration effect on the brain’s mechanical response in simulated injury scenarios or virtual human-centric protective headgear design is essential.