Effects of contusion load on cervical spinal cord: A finite element study

Rui Zhu, Yuhang Chen, Qianqian Yu, Siqing Liu, Jianjie Wang, Zhili Zeng, Liming Cheng

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)
101 Downloads (Pure)


Injury of cervical spine is a common injury of locomotor system usually accompanied by spinal cord injury, however the injury mechanism of contusion load to the spinal cord is not clear. This study aims to investigate its injury mechanism associated with the contusion load, with different extents of spinal cord compression. A finite element model of cervical spinal cord was established and two scenarios of contusion injury loading conditions, i.e. back-to-front and front-to-back loads, were adopted. Four different compression displacements were applied to the middle section of the cervical spinal cord. The distributions of von Mises stress in middle transverse cross section were obtained from the finite element analysis. For the back-to-front loading scenario, the stress concentration was found in the area at and near the central canal and the damage may lead to the central canal syndrome from biomechanical point of view. With the front-to-back load, the maximum von Mises stress located in central canal area of gray matter when subject to 10% compression, whilst it appeared at the anterior horn when the compression increased. For the white matter, the maximum von Mises stress appeared in the area of the anterior funiculus. This leads to complicated symptoms given rise by damage to multiple locations in the cervical spinal cord. The illustrative results demonstrated the need of considering different loading scenarios in understanding the damage mechanisms of the cervical spinal cord, particularly when the loading conditions were given rise by different pathophysiological causes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2272-2283
Number of pages12
JournalMathematical Biosciences and Engineering
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 16 Jan 2020


  • cervical spinal cord
  • contusion load
  • finite element analysis
  • injury mechanism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Modelling and Simulation
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
  • Computational Mathematics
  • Applied Mathematics


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