Bandwidth and sample rate requirements for wearable head impact sensors

Lyndia C. Wu, Kaveh Laksari, Calvin Kuo, Jason F. Luck, Svein Kleiven, Cameron R. ‘Dale’ Bass, David B. Camarillo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


Wearable inertial sensors measure human head impact kinematics important to the on-going development and validation of head injury criteria. However, sensor specifications have not been scientifically justified in the context of the anticipated field impact dynamics. The objective of our study is to determine the minimum bandwidth and sample rate required to capture the impact frequency response relevant to injury. We used high-bandwidth head impact data as ground-truth measurements, and investigated the attenuation of various injury criteria at lower bandwidths. Given a 10% attenuation threshold, we determined the minimum bandwidths required to study injury criteria based on skull kinematics and brain deformation in three different model systems: helmeted cadaver (no neck), unhelmeted cadaver (no neck), and helmeted dummy impacts (with neck). We found that higher bandwidths are required for unhelmeted impacts in general and for studying strain rate injury criteria. Minimum gyroscope bandwidths of 300 Hz in helmeted sports and 500 Hz in unhelmeted sports are necessary to study strain rate based injury criteria. A minimum accelerometer bandwidth of 500 Hz in unhelmeted sports is necessary to study most injury criteria. Current devices typically sample at 1000 Hz, with gyroscope bandwidths below 200 Hz, which are not always sufficient according to these requirements. With hard contact test conditions, the identified requirements may be higher than most soft contacts on the field, but should be satisfied to capture the worst contact, and often higher risk, scenarios relative to the specific sport or activity. Our findings will help establish standard guidelines for sensor choice and design in traumatic brain injury research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2918-2924
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Biomechanics
Issue number13
StatePublished - Sep 6 2016


  • Bandwidth
  • Head impact biomechanics
  • Head injury criteria
  • Sample rate
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Wearable sensors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Rehabilitation


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