Invention Library

Test Apparatus for Examining Brain Injury

Background and Unmet Need  

Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) is a progressive degenerative disease resulting from head trauma, particularly a history of repeated head trauma. Athletes who play contact sports and military personnel who incur repeated head traumas, including concussive or sub-concussive traumas, are at the greatest risk of developing CTE. Many athletes may experience frequent sub-concussive head trauma during participation in a contact sport and never have a symptomatic concussion. These athletes may still develop CTE.

The effects of CTE may include mood changes, personality and behavioral changes, memory loss, confusion, and problems with motor skills and function. Roughly 5 out of 10 (50%) concussions go unreported or undetected in student-athletes, where between 1.7 – 3 million sports and recreation-related concussions are reported annually in the United States. The impact of brain injuries and the potential development of CTE is of growing concern.

Current tools available to study the brain non-invasively, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), are expensive. Further, a patient is required to be already injured to study the effects on the brain. To realistically study brain function and injuries, there remains a need for a device that enables non-invasive methods of assessing the impact and characteristics of brain injury from acute brain trauma without the need for an injured patient.

The Invention

Dr. Wu has created a novel non-invasive test apparatus for the study of impact-induced brain trauma, including a see-through head model with a biomimetic skull and a brain. Within the interior of the skull chamber, a gel material and fluid are disposed to resemble an anatomical representation of the human skull and brain configuration. Further, the invention allows a patient-specific skull and brain model to be constructed to match an individual’s anatomical specifications.

The biomimetic test model is accompanied by a plurality of sensors and high-speed cameras, which are used to detect impact-induced brain injuries. This enables an in-depth study of the brain, unlike any other testing device in its class. Such a model and approach allow the examination of the flow and pressurization of the cerebrospinal fluid flow (CSF) in the subarachnoid spaces (SAS) as the head is exposed to sudden external impacts. Further, deformations or stretching of the brain can also be observed because of the see-through model design.

An impact element is configured to simulate different types of impact surfaces and orientations. This includes both translational and rotational impacts, which may be tested individually or simultaneously. For example, an impact element may include or simulate concrete, the ground, metal, a bat, a ball, a vehicle, a person’s head, or other impact elements. An actuator can precisely control the impact element to provide consistent impacts on the simulated head model, the consistent impacts having consistent physical parameters, including but not limited to impact velocity and acceleration.

Unique Attributes

  • Biomimetic skull and brain model with cerebrospinal and intracranial fluid aspects.
  • Customizable skull and brain test models based on individual anatomical data.
  • Ability to test both rotational and translational impacts independently or simultaneously.
  • Ability to help predict the location of injury based on the specific type of impact.