Kaveh Laksari, Ph.D.
Department of Bioengineering
Leveraging brain biomechanics to prevent concussions
10:00 -- 11:00 AM
Fenster Hall Room 698
Every year 1.7 million people are diagnosed with traumatic brain injury (TBI) in the USA, 80% of which is categorized as mild. The numbers for undiagnosed cases are much higher still. Until recently, mild TBI (mTBI) was generally ignored as a minor health issue and its effects were thought to disappear after a short recovery period. However, emerging evidence suggests that this injury is by no means mild and such insults to the brain could lead to chronic neurodegeneration. Solving a complex problem such as TBI requires a multi-faceted approach. In this talk we will focus on two aspects of mTBI: how do external forces on the head drive the brain’s dynamic motion and deformation, and how we can improve the current state-of-the-art in head protective equipment using the biomechanics of the head. In both cases, it is of utmost importance to have accurate measurements of the effect of external forces on the pursuing kinematics of the head, and also to develop models that can accurately capture the effects of these kinematics on the brain tissue. We used a combination of modeling and imaging to show low frequency dynamic motions dominate the brain-skull interaction and that this frequency range coincides with head motions in contact sports. Using detailed finite element simulations, we explored how strains in various structures of the brain, particularly tract-oriented strains and strain-rate in corpus callosum, could be used as predictors for injury. Finally, we will discuss how novel approaches in protective equipment using smart-expandable helmets could give better protection for our most important organ.