Elucidating the role of compression waves and impact duration for generating mild traumatic brain injury in rats

Document Type


Publication Date



3 million concussions occur each year in the United States. The mechanisms linking acute injury to chronic deficits are poorly understood. Mild traumatic brain injury has been described clinically in terms of acute functional deficits, but the underlying histopathologic changes that occur are relatively unknown due to limited high-function imaging modalities. In order to improve our understanding of acute injury mechanisms, appropriately designed preclinical models must be utilized. The clinical relevance of compression wave injury models revolves around the ability to produce consistent histopathologic deficits. Repetitive mild traumatic brain injuries activate similar neuroinflammatory cascades, cell death markers, and increases in amyloid precursor protein in both humans and rodents. Humans however infrequently succumb to mild traumatic brain injuries and therefore the intensity and magnitude of impacts must be inferred. Understanding compression wave properties and mechanical loading could help link the histopathologic deficits seen in rodents to what might be happening in human brains following repetitive concussions. Advances in mathematical and computer modeling can help characterize the wave properties generated by the compression wave model. While this concept of linking duration and intensity of impact to subsequent histopathologic deficits makes sense, numerical modeling of compression waves has not been performed in this context. In this collaborative interdisciplinary work, numerical simulations were performed to study the creation of compression waves in our experimental model. This work was conducted in conjunction with a repetitive compression wave injury paradigm in rats in order to better understand how the wave generation correlates with validated histopathologic deficits.