Authors: Dal Cengio Leonardi A, Keane NJ, Bir CA, Ryan AG, Xu L, Vandevord PJ.
Since an increasing number of returning military personnel are presenting with neurological manifestations of traumatic brain injury (TBI), there has been a great focus on the effects resulting from blast exposure. It is paramount to resolve the physical mechanism by which the critical stress is being inflicted on brain tissue from blast wave encounters with the head. This study quantitatively measured the effect of head orientation on intracranial pressure (ICP) of rats exposed to a shock wave. Furthermore, the study examined how skull maturity affects ICP response of animals exposed to shock waves at various orientations. Results showed a significant increase in ICP values in larger rats at any orientation. Furthermore, when side-ICP values were compared to the other orientations, the peak pressures were significantly lower suggesting a relation between ICP and orientation of the head due to geometry of the skull and location of sutures. This finding accentuates the importance of skull dynamics in explaining possible injury mechanisms during blast. Also, the rate of pressure change was measured and indicated that the rate was significantly higher when the top of the head was facing the shock front. The results confirm that the biomechanical response of the superior rat skull is distinctive compared to other areas of the skull, suggesting a skull flexure mechanism. These results not only present insights into the mechanism of brain injury, but also provide information which can be used for designing more effective protective head gear.