Head injury is a leading cause of morbidity and death in both industrialized and developing countries. It is estimated that brain injuries account for 15% of the burden of fatalities and disabilities, and represent the leading cause of death in young adults. Brain injury may be caused by an impact or a sudden change in the linear and/or angular velocity of the head. However, the woodpecker does not experience any head injury at the high speed of 6-7 m/s with a deceleration of 1000 g when it drums a tree trunk. It is still not known how woodpeckers protect their brain from impact injury. In order to investigate this, finite element (FE) models of human and woodpecker heads were established to study the dynamic intracranial responses based on micro-CT and CT images, respectively. The mechanical properties in the woodpecker’s head were investigated using a mechanical testing system. It was shown that the macro/micro morphology of the cranial bone and beak can be recognized as a major contributor to nonimpact injuries. This biomechanical analysis makes it possible to visualize events during woodpecker pecking and may inspire new approaches to prevention and treatment of human head injury.
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