The Role of Engineering in Traumatic Brain Injury Research

There is a new and innovative approach to traumatic brain injury (TBI) research, which has the potential to yield ground-breaking results. Mechanical and Materials Engineering Professor Haojie Mao at Western University in London, Ontario hopes that engineering might serve as a catalyst for major TBI discoveries.

 

An Interdisciplinary Collaboration

Traditionally, the complexities of the brain are considered through a medical or scientific lens. Haojie Mao, Professor in the Engineering Department of Western University, is taking a new, interdisciplinary approach.  According to Professor Mao, impact is trauma, and the force behind the impact is engineering. For patients with TBI, understanding the correlation between the biomechanics of the brain and its cells and networks is imperative.

One of the key components of Professor Mao’s research is a computational head model that allows researchers to observe first-hand how various degrees of impact affect the brain. For example, the force of a car accident will differ from that of a sports injury.  Understanding the difference could play a significant role in how a TBI is diagnosed, treated, and ultimately how a prognosis is determined.

Statistically speaking, the most common type of accident scenario involves an oblique impact, which results in rotational and linear acceleration of the brain. Rotational acceleration causes the brain to twist due to unrestricted movement that is out of sync with the rest of the body. Linear rotation results in the brain moving quickly and suddenly but in a single direction.

According to Professor Mao, rotational motion is more likely to indicate TBI than linear acceleration. Unlike muscles and some vital organs, the brain is immobile, which can result in catastrophic outcomes when subjected to that type of movement. Given the brain’s restricted healing ability, understanding how a particular impact may affect the brain can provide critical insight.

 

The Effects on Treatment and Prevention

Applying engineering principles to the study of TBI may help healthcare professionals make faster and more precise diagnoses, which can, in turn, lead to more effective treatment. When it comes to navigating the aftermath of a TBI, time is of the essence, so having the right information from the outset has the potential to make a significant impact on recovery.

Another important role that engineering plays in TBI research relates to prevention. Having a better understanding of how and why different types of impact affect the brain may help in product design and execution. For example, automobile manufacturers could benefit from knowing how to design a safer vehicle that is more conducive to protecting the brain. The same can be said about helmet and safety equipment design, certain juvenile products, and other frequently used items.

Gluckstein Lawyers lauds the efforts of such dedicated researchers who are working hard to shed light on TBI and better the lives of patients.

 

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Source: news.westernu.ca/2018/02/solving-brain-trauma-engineering-lens/

 

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