Traumatic brain injury (TBI) has become a recent focus of biomedical research with a growing international effort targeting material characterization of brain tissue and simulations of trauma using computer models of the head and brain to try to elucidate the mechanisms and pathogenesis of TBI. The meninges, a collagenous protective tri-layer, which encloses the entire brain and spinal cord has been largely overlooked in these material characterization studies. This has resulted in a lack of accurate constitutive data for the cranial meninges, particularly under dynamic conditions such as those experienced during head impacts. The work presented here addresses this lack of data by providing for the first time, in situ large deformation material properties of the porcine dura-arachnoid mater composite under dynamic indentation. It is demonstrated that this tissue is substantially stiffer (shear modulus, μ=19.10±8.55kPa) and relaxes at a slower rate (τ1=0.034±0.008s, τ2=0.336±0.077s) than the underlying brain tissue (μ=6.97±2.26kPa, τ1=0.021±0.007s, τ2=0.199±0.036s), reducing the magnitudes of stress by 250% and 65% for strains that arise during indentation-type deformations in adolescent brains. We present the first mechanical analysis of the protective capacity of the cranial meninges using in situ micro-indentation techniques. Force-relaxation tests are performed on in situ meninges and cortex tissue, under large strain dynamic micro-indentation. A quasi-linear viscoelastic model is used subsequently, providing time-dependent mechanical properties of these neural tissues under loading conditions comparable to what is experienced in TBI. The reported data highlights the large differences in mechanical properties between these two tissues. Finite element simulations of the indentation experiments are also performed to investigate the protective capacity of the meninges. These simulations show that the meninges protect the underlying brain tissue by reducing the overall magnitude of stress by 250% and up to 65% for strains.
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