Date of Completion


Embargo Period



John Bennett; Wei Sun

Field of Study

Biomedical Engineering


Master of Science

Open Access

Open Access


Low-speed, rear end vehicle collisions can inflict soft tissue damage to the passenger’s knees, especially the medial meniscus, which has been previously unexplained in published literature. It is difficult to determine if factors such as age or other injury was the primary cause of the injury or if the accident acutely caused the meniscal tear. Rear end collisions may produce a combination of compressive loading and torque about the knee that will injure the medial meniscus during the initial impact and the rebound phase. The purpose of this study is to determine if it is possible for rear end low-speed collisions to tear the medial meniscus when the knee had no significant contact with the interior of the vehicle.

A three-dimensional finite element model of the knee was used to determine the effect of various loads and torques imposed on the knee using the software FEBio. Compressive loading, knee flexion, axial torque, and varus torque were applied to the knee through the femur, and the stress and strain within the medial meniscus were determined. It was found that increased knee flexion along with compressive loading will increase the stress observed as compared to the knee in the neutral position. Axial torque up to 24 Nm and varus torque will both increase the stress observed in the meniscus. In a collision, if the knee experiences any type of axial or varus torque coupled with a compressive force of 670 N or more, there is a possibility that the medial meniscus will be torn. It was also found that the areas of maximum stress occur along the inner edge of the meniscus and are found primarily in the mid-body and posterior horn. While there are several inherent limitations of the current model, the results of the simulations show that several loading patterns can stress the medial meniscus to failure, especially if it was in a weakened state due to mechanical trauma or age.

Major Advisor

Donald Peterson