Traction tests on soft tissues show that the shape of the stress strain curves depends on the strain rate at which the tests are performed. Many of the constitutive models that have been proposed fail to properly consider the effect of the strain rate when large deformations are encountered. In the present study, a framework based on elastic and viscous potentials is developed. The resulting constitutive law is valid for large deformations and satisfies the principles of thermodynamics. Three parameters -- two for the elasticity and one for the viscosity -- were enough to precisely fit the non-linear stress strain curves obtained at different strain rates with human cruciate ligaments and patellar tendons. The identification results then in a realistic, three-dimensional viscoelastic constitutive law. The developed constitutive law can be used regardless of the strain or rotation values. It can be incorporated into a finite element program to model the viscoelastic behavior of ligaments and tendons under dynamic situations.
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