Effect of Aging on Brain Injury Prediction in Rotational Head Trauma - A Parameter Study with a Rat Finite Element Model
Journal article, 2015
Objective: The aim of this study was to investigate the possible effects of age-related intracranial changes on the potential outcome of diffuse axonal injuries and acute subdural hematoma under rotational head loading.
Methods: A simulation-based parametric study was conducted using an updated and validated finite element model of a rat head. The validation included a comparison of predicted brain cortex sliding with respect to the skull. Further, model material properties were modified to account for aging; predicted tissue strains were compared with experimental data in which groups of rats in 2 different lifecycle stages, young adult and mature adult, were subjected to rotational trauma. For the parameter study, 2 age-dependent factors-brain volume and region-specific brain material properties-were implemented into the model. The models young adult and old age were subjected to several injurious and subinjurious sagittal plane rotational acceleration levels.
Results: Sequential analysis of the simulated trauma progression indicates that an increase in acute subdural hematoma injury risk indicator occurs at an early stage of the trauma, whereas an increase in diffuse axonal injury risk indicators occurs at a later stage. Tissue stiffening from young adult to mature adult rats produced an increase in strain-based thresholds accompanied by a wider spread of strain distribution toward the rear part of the brain, consistent with rotational trauma experiments with young adult and mature adult rats. Young adult to old age brain tissue softening and brain atrophy resulted in an increase in diffuse axonal injuries and acute subdural hematoma injury risk indicators, respectively.
Conclusions: The findings presented in this study suggest that age-specific injury thresholds should be developed to enable the development of superior restraint systems for the elderly. The findings also motivate other further studies on age-dependency of head trauma.
diffuse axonal injuries (DAI)
finite element method
acute subdural hematoma (ASDH)
traumatic brain injury (TBI)