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Gradient-enhanced continuum models of healing in damaged soft tissues
Healing of soft biological tissue is the process of self-recovering or self-repairing the injured or damaged extracellular matrix (ECM). Healing is assumed to be stress-driven, with the objective of returning to a homeostatic stress metrics in the tissue after replacing the damaged ECM with new undamaged one. However, based on the existence of intrinsic length scales in soft tissues, it is thought that computational models of healing should be non-local. In the present study, we introduce for the first time two gradient-enhanced constitutive healing models for soft tissues including non-local variables. The first model combines a continuum damage model with a temporally homogenized growth model, where the growth direction is determined according to local principal stress directions. The second one is based on a gradient-enhanced healing model with continuously recoverable damage variable. Both models are implemented in the finite-element package Abaqus by means of a user subroutine UEL. Three two-dimensional situations simulating the healing process of soft tissues are modeled numerically with both models, and their application for simulation of balloon angioplasty is provided by illustrating the change of damage field and geometry in the media layer throughout the healing process. © 2019, Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature.