Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Biomedical and Chemical Engineering and Sciences

First Advisor

Linxia Gu

Second Advisor

James Brenner

Third Advisor

Mehmet Kaya

Fourth Advisor

Andrew Knight


Contact sports are associated with some invisible injuries after the incident when symptoms do not appear until weeks after. This can be dangerous as players may continue to engage in the sport and risk further injury. Athletic mouthguards are used to reduce the risk of injury, but there is insufficient data to quantify the effectiveness of mouthguard design on sports performance and injury prevention. In this work, the thickness and material selection of the mouthguard design were characterized in terms of airway resistance, electromyography muscle activation, and energy absorption. First, the effect of thickness on the condyle and temporal bone and airway volume and resistance was quantified from high resolution cone beam computed tomography images and computational flow analysis. Results showed that the 2 mm thickness improved airflow and airway volume the most. Mouthguard use increased the temporal volume indiscriminantly to thickness. Next, strength performance using electromyography was performed with various mouthguard thickness. It was observed that mouthguard use lowered masseter muscle activation and, therefore, would not lower the threshold for action potentials distally. Lastly, material selection was evaluated for energy absorption using the impact tester. A high-speed camera was used to model the strain of the tested materials, and simulation was conducted to compare the material response of the samples to the material response of the current benchmark used in mouthguards: ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA). One of the samples was determined to provide the best response in terms of absorbing shockwaves and returning to original shape after deformation and had a similar response to that of EVA foam. Thickness and material selection play a vital role in preventing injury and improving performance. The airway, EMG, and energy absorption studies indicated various parameters that must be considered for mouthguard design.


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Available for download on Wednesday, May 08, 2024