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Traumatic brain injury patients, supercomputer simulations studied to improve helmets
Date:11/14/2012

supercomputer take about a day to process a millisecond of simulated time and at least 5 milliseconds are required to capture a single blast event, Taylor said.

The 3-D simulations are visualized using two-dimensional multi-colored images of a man's head that record an enormous amount of data. Taylor and Ford have focused on three types of energy entering the brain that may cause TBI: compressive isotropic energy associated with crushing; tensile isotropic energy that tends to expand parts of the brain and could lead to cavitation; and shear energy that causes distortion and tearing of soft tissue. The pressure and stress within the brain show up as colors moving in slow motion through and around the brain cavity on videos created from the simulations.

On the clinical side, Ford studied 13 subjects who suffered mild TBI after IEDs exploded near them. Some were stunned, most lost consciousness at least briefly, and most cannot hold a job, he said.

The research partners hope to recruit more patients, especially military veterans, who were exposed to blasts that did not penetrate the skin and who suffered a loss of consciousness, Ford says. Candidates must have no other history of significant blunt traumas.

A battery of tests measured the subjects' memory, language and intelligence. These results were correlated with changes in functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) from the patients. The 3-D fMRI studies can detect and map networks in the brain used for processes like movement, vision and attention. By comparing this data with those of a control group, Ford identified a subgroup of networks displaying abnormal brain activity in the patients. These results were then compared with energy deposition maps predicted by the computer simulations.

The research showed that certain regions of patients' brains are hyperactive, perhaps because they are compensating for adjacent, damaged areas of the brain that were hit with high
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Contact: Heather Clark
hclark@sandia.gov
505-844-3511
DOE/Sandia National Laboratories
Source:Eurekalert  

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