The anisotropic failure characteristics of human skin are relatively unknown at strain rates typical in impact biomechanics. This study reports the results of an experimental protocol to quantify the effect of dynamic strain rates and the effect of sample orientation with respect to the Langer lines. Uniaxial tensile tests were carried out at three strain rates (0.06s(-1), 53s(-1), and 167s(-1)) on 33 test samples excised from the back of a fresh cadaver. The mean ultimate tensile stress, mean elastic modulus and mean strain energy increased with increasing strain rates. While the stretch ratio at ultimate tensile stress was not affected by the strain rate, it was influenced by the orientation of the samples (parallel and perpendicular to the Langer lines. The orientation of the sample also had a strong influence on the ultimate tensile stress, with a mean value of 28.0 ± 5.7 MPa for parallel samples, and 15.6 ± 5.2 MPa for perpendicular samples, and on the elastic modulus, with corresponding mean values of 160.8 MPa ± 53.2 MPa and 70.6 MPa ± 59.5 MPa. The study also pointed out the difficulties in controlling the effective applied strain rate in dynamic characterization of soft tissue and the resulting abnormal stress-strain relationships. Finally, data collected in this study can be used to develop constitutive models where high loading rates are of primary interest.
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