“Through interdisciplinary studies, we’re learning that head injury and brain injury is not really a singular event, but rather a process through a series of connected events that can vary greatly depending on how hard the hit, and the angle it comes from,” Panzer said. “We’re characterizing the kinds of injuries that can happen in many scenarios, and at different ages, and predicting the resulting effects.”
The research informs the development of safety devices and features, such as football helmets, automobile restraint systems and military equipment.
As an example, the Center for Applied Biomechanics conducts tests to rate the safety of different football helmet designs for the National Football League. Engineers use a range of sensors and computer models to determine the effects on the brain from impacts at different helmet locations. They have demonstrated that hits to the side of the head, which cause the head to suddenly rotate, cause more brain deformity and potentially more severe injury than impacts to the front of the head.