Pedestrian injuries: Viscoelastic properties of human knee ligaments at high loading rates

J. A.W. Van Dommelen, M. Minary Jolandan, B. J. Ivarsson, S. A. Millington, M. Raut, J. R. Kerrigan, J. R. Crandall, D. R. Diduch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Objective. Accidents involving pedestrians are very common, and often lead to severe injuries to the lower extremities. In a large portion of pedestrian-automobile collisions, knee ligament injuries are sustained. In this study, the viscoelastic properties of the four major human knee ligaments were investigated at loading rates representative for pedestrian-automobile collisions. Methods. Bone-ligament-bone specimens were tested in knee distraction loading. The collateral ligaments and the separate functional bundles of the cruciate ligaments were tested in the anatomical position corresponding to a fully extended knee. A series of step-and-hold tests and ramp tests at different rates were conducted to characterize the time-dependent behavior of the knee ligaments for deformation rates associated with the pedestrian impact loading environment. The quasi linear viscoelastic (QLV) theory was used to describe the structural response of the knee ligaments and averaged parameters for this model were determined. Results. The QLV theory was found to be applicable for the time range that is relevant for pedestrian-automobile collisions. The structural behavior of the knee ligaments was found to be particularly rate-sensitive for high elongation rates, as occur during these collisions. The ligament stiffness was found to increase with age for both the collateral ligaments and with weight for the medial collateral ligament. Conclusions. For the loading conditions that are relevant for pedestrian-automobile collisions, the use of the QLV model for the description of the mechanical behavior of knee ligaments is appropriate. The rate-sensitivity is particularly important for these extreme loading conditions. The relaxation behavior was found to be consistent between different ligament types and samples. Variations due to donor anthropometry were found predominantly for the instantaneous elastic behavior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)278-287
Number of pages10
JournalTraffic Injury Prevention
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Age Dependence
  • Knee Ligaments
  • Pedestrian Injury
  • Viscoelastic Properties
  • Weight Dependence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Safety Research
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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