Modelling vascular injury in the brain: prediction and prevention

Lead Research Organisation: Imperial College London
Department Name: Design Engineering

Abstract

Traumatic brain injury is a common condition affecting people from all walks of life. Acute bleeding in the brain often follows such an injury and is a direct result of the trauma.

Through computational analysis and the modelling of real-world patient data, a comprehensive library of impact reconstructions and creations is envisioned, which will show the
severity of impact magnitudes and directions to the head to be assessed. This will allow for novel head protection methods to be developed which mitigate against the worst performing areas and directions.

This Ph.D. aims to add to the area of Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) prevention research by developing a state of the art finite element model of the vasculature in the brain and use it to develop vasculature injury prevention methods. It is hoped that the finite element model being developed in this project will be a useful resource for discovering which impacts magnitudes and directions are the most severe in terms of haemorrhaging, and therefore advance the development of new helmets.

This is translated into the following aims:
1. Enhance Imperial College London's model of the brain to include an accurate and detailed 3D model of the cerebral vasculature for the prediction of intracranial bleeding (IB).
2. Investigate the effect of different impact loads on the type and extent of vascular injury to identify any potential relationships.
3. Create insight into the development of IB prevention methods based on the identification of the relationship between head loads and the injury caused.

This Ph.D. benefits from a strong collaboration with the TBI group in Brain Sciences Division (led by Prof David sharp, C3NL) at Imperial College London. A collaboration such as this has not been seen before in this field, providing unique opportunities for this Ph.D. This allows the above aims to be realised through the completion of the following tasks:

1. Investigate the modelling methods used to describe the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) surrounding the brain, and trial novel methods to examine any improvements to the accuracy of relative displacement of the brain to the skull - a crucial factor for the rupture of bridging veins.
2. Use computational methods to integrate the cerebral vasculature into the current model developed at Imperial College London with verification through reconstruction of TBI-IB events where full prognosis and impact conditions are known.
3. Run a variety of simulations on the verified model based on patient data (from a 400-strong cohort - access provided by C3NL) to identify loads which produce the least and most severe injuries, as well as comparing the patterns of loads in vessels and vascular injury.
4. Investigate the effectiveness of current head protection methods for prevention of vasculature injury.
5. Prototype novel helmet designs to reduce the chance or severity of intracranial bleeding and compare to current head protection methods and safety standards.

This work is and will benefit from strong collaborations with industry. From acquiring vascular data to the testing of current head protection methods, input is required from partners in industry where the expertise and knowledge is already present. Currently, Singapore Bioimaging Consortium, A*STAR, is aiding this project for the development of the vasculature in the current model. Additionally, companies such as Charles Owen are being networked with for assistance in the later stages of the project, for helmet testing and prototyping.

Publications

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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
EP/N509486/1 01/10/2016 31/03/2022
2024686 Studentship EP/N509486/1 30/09/2017 30/09/2021 Harry Duckworth
 
Description Lab website 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Providing study specific content for the labs website.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019,2020
URL https://www.imperial.ac.uk/human-experience-analysis-design/
 
Description Poster Presentation at Frontiers in TBI 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Poster presentation of vasculature modelling at Frontiers in Traumatic Brain Injury Conference, 2019.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Poster presentation at Frontiers in TBI 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Poster presentation to delegates of the Frontiers in TBI conference, 2018. Presented information on finite element modelling the interface between the brain and the skull to industry professionals and academics.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Speaker at 15th Annual Injury Biomechanics Symposium 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Presented outcomes of recent research achieved from this group at an international conference in Ohio, USA. The conference was on the subject of injury biomechanics and consisted of an audience of experts, postgraduate students, undergraduate students, and professionals.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://ibrc.osu.edu/symposium/2019-symposium/