Dynamic behaviour of brain and surrogate materials under ballistic impact
Thesis DisciplineMechanical Engineering
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameDoctor of Philosophy
In the last several decades the number of the fatalities related to criminally inflicted cranial gunshot wounds has increased (Aarabi et al.; Jena et al., 2014; Mota et al., 2003). Back-spattered bloodstain patterns are often important in investigations of cranial gunshot fatalities, particularly when there is a doubt whether the death is suicide or homicide. Back-spatter is the projection of blood and tissue back toward the firearm. However, the mechanism of creation of the backspatter is not understood well. There are several hypotheses, which describe the formation of the backspatter. However, as it is difficult to study the internal mechanics of formation of the backspatter in animal experiments as the head is opaque and sample properties vary from animal to animal. Performing ballistic experiments on human cadavers is rarely not possible for ethical reasons. An alternative is to build a realistic physical 3D model of the human head, which can be used for reconstruction of crime scenes and BPA training purposes. This requires a simulant material for each layer of the human head. In order to build a realistic model of human head, it is necessary to understand the effect of the each layer of the human head to the generation of the back-spatter. Simulant materials offer the possibility of safe, well‐controlled experiments. Suitable simulants must be biologically inert, be stable over some reasonable shelf‐life, and respond to ballistic penetration in the same way as the responding human tissues. Traditionally 10-20% (w/w) gelatine have been used as a simulant for human soft tissues in ballistic experiments. However, 10-20% of gelatine has never been validated as a brain simulant. Moreover, due to the viscoelastic nature of the brain it is not possible to find the exact mechanical properties of the brain at ballistic strain rates. Therefore, in this study several experiments were designed to obtain qualitative and quantitative data using high speed cameras to compare different concentrations of gelatine and new composite material with the bovine and ovine brains. Factors such as the form of the fragmentation, velocity of the ejected material, expansion rate, stopping distance, absorption of kinetic energy and effect of the suction as well as ejection of the air from the wound cavity and its involvement in the generation of the backspatter have been investigated. Furthermore, in this study a new composite material has been developed, which is able to create more realistic form of the fragmentation and expansion rate compared to the all different percentage of the gelatine. The results of this study suggested that none of the concentrations the gelatine used in this study were capable of recreating the form of the damage to the one observed from bovine and ovine brain. The elastic response of the brain tissue is much lower that observed in gelatine samples. None of the simulants reproduced the stopping distance or form of the damage seen in bovine brain. Suction and ejection of the air as a result of creation of the temporary cavity has a direct relation to the elasticity of the material. For example, by reducing the percentage of the gelatine the velocity of the air drawn into the cavity increases however, the reverse scenario can be seen for the ejection of the air. This study showed that elastic response of the brain tissue was not enough to eject the brain and biological materials out of the cranium. However, the intracranial pressure raises as the projectile passes through the head. This pressure has the potential of ejecting the brain and biological material backward and create back-spatter. Finally, the results of this study suggested that for each specific type of experiment, a unique simulant must be designed to meet the requirements for that particular experiment.