An experimental study examined the tensile stress-strain behavior of cortical bone during rapid load cycles to high strain amplitudes. Machined bovine and human cortical bone samples were subjected to loading cycles at a nominal load/unload rate of ±420 MPa/s. Loads were reversed at pre-selected strain levels such that load cycles were typically completed in 0.5-0.7 seconds. Axial strain behavior demonstrated considerable nonlinearity in the first load cycle, while transverse strain behavior was essentially linear. For the human bone 29.1 percent (S.D. = 4.7 percent), and for the bovine bone 35.1 percent (S.D. = 10.8 percent) of the maximum nonlinear strain accumulated after load reversal, where nonlinear strain was defined as the difference between total strain and strain corresponding to linear elastic behavior. Average residual axial strain on unloading was 35.4 percent (S.D. = 1.2 percent) for human bone and 35.1 percent (S.D. = 2.9 percent) of maximum nonlinear strain. Corresponding significant volumetric strains and residual volumetric strains were found. The results support the conclusions that the nonlinear stress-strain behavior observed during creep loading also occurs during transient loading at physiological rates. The volume increases suggest that damage accumulation, i.e., new internal surfaces and voids, plays a major role in this behavior. The residual volume increases and associated disruptions in the internal structure of bone provide a potential stimulus for a biological repair response.

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