Sensitivity analysis of muscle properties and impact parameters on head injury risk in American football.

Affiliation

Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT, USA. Electronic address: [Email]

Abstract

Head injuries frequently occur in American football and other contact sports. Uncertainty on the effects of cervical muscle properties on head injury risk may be due to the limitations of previous observational studies. This simulation study employs a musculoskeletal model of the head and neck to investigate the effect of several factors related to head injury metrics in American Football. These factors include isometric muscle strength, the eccentric multiplier (which is related to the athlete's ability to apply greater muscle force during eccentric contractions), posture, muscle activation patterns, and impact properties. Impact properties were based on the literature and tuned to reproduce peak linear and rotational accelerations of the skull. We hypothesized that active neck muscles significantly reduce head injury metrics. We systematically altered each model parameter to test our hypothesis. We then determined which model parameters affect head injury metrics the most. The results of this study indicate that active neck muscles have a statistically significant effect on head injury metrics. Increasing muscle strength and eccentric multiplier also resulted in a statistically significant reduction of head injury metrics. However, posture prior to impact had a much stronger effect than any other factor on head injury metrics. A comprehensive approach to athlete training protocols is recommended, including exercises aimed at increasing eccentric muscle strength and preparation for impacts. Future studies should investigate how targeted muscle strengthening and impact training (i.e. activation patterns and posture) modifies risk.

Keywords

Concussion,Football,Musculoskeletal modeling,OpenSim,Simulation,

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