The goal of this project is to investigate the effects of blast-induced traumatic brain injury (bTBI) using advanced finite element (FE) modeling techniques. This study will focus on the posterior fossa region of the brain (brainstem, cerebellum, great vein of Galen and other vasculature). Previous studies and recent animal model experiments indicate that this important region of the brain sustains damage in bTBI cases. Further, such injuries are consistent with symptoms reported by subjects. An anatomically correct, biomechanically-based, 3-dimensional FE head model will be produced. A detailed FE submodel of the brainstem and veins will be created, which uses the stress/strain distribution from the global head model as the boundary conditions on the separate assembly model. The effects of blast strength and direction will also be studied.
This research is the direct result of the convergence of several important needs in medicine, engineering, education, industry, and the military. If successful, the research benefits will be broad and influence several areas. Early diagnosis and treatment of traumatic brain injury is critical for long term treatment success and even survival. Both can be aided by developing treatment modalities and dose/response relationships that complement the precise injury mechanisms. The work will lay the ground work for the development of better protective equipment for bomb squads, industrial firefighters, and soldiers. For example, head models can be augmented with models of protective equipment or vehicles. Other injury mechanisms (e.g. impacts, flying shrapnel) could also be incorporated into the models. Making these models available in the public domain will be a considerable contribution to the scientific and engineering community. Students and faculty will interact across traditional disciplines, a synergy highly beneficial. The research materials and procedures resulting from this project will be adapted for classroom use.