BME Leadership Series: Pediatric Concussion Biomechanics: What We Need To Know


3:00 pm-4:00 pm
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Communicore Room C1-17
Gainesville, FL 32611


Susan S. Margulies, Ph.D., Wallace H. Coulter Chair, Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar in Injury Biomechanics, Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering, Georgia Tech College of Engineering

Concussions are diagnosed based on symptoms, and most assessments are influenced by the patients’ awareness of or willingness to report their symptoms, which undermines our ability to identify biomechanical thresholds associated with concussion using instrumented volunteers. In addition, the biomechanical environment, occasionally captured by sensors in helmets, patches and mouthguards often report limited information about the rotational movements of the head associated with concussion. Animal models can provide a controlled laboratory setting to investigate the relationships between the risk of concussion and the rapid head rotation magnitude and direction, as well has the contributions of age, sex, and previous concussions in the biomechanical thresholds for concussion. Most animal models for traumatic brain injury typically exhibit loss of consciousness, axonal damage, and hemorrhage, often with focal contusions. These animal models are representative of moderate to severe traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), but few mimic the more subtle cognitive and neurofunctional alterations without pathology found in concussion. Thus, animal model-derived biomechanical thresholds are typically for more severe brain injuries than concussion. Regardless, animal models insight into how head impacts and sudden head movements produce brain deformations and how brain deformations result in a spectrum of brain injuries, from mild to severe TBI. Emerging research in objective, involuntary neurofunctional metrics and biomarkers can bridge the gap between human and animal research, and provide important insight into the biomechanics of concussion, to provide a rational foundation for injury prevention and treatment.


Dr. Margulies is the Chair of the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech and Emory University, and the Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar in Injury Biomechanics. She received her BSE in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Princeton and PhD in Bioengineering from the University of Pennsylvania, and was a post-doctoral fellow at Mayo. With over 30 years of experience in the area of traumatic brain injury research, and over 25 years in pulmonary biomechanics. Dr. Margulies has secured over $35 million in federal, private, and industry funding to discover injury mechanisms on the macro and micro scales, and translate basic research findings to improve clinical outcomes. The head injury research program focuses on integrating mechanical properties, animal models, instrumented dolls, patient data, and computational models to identify injury mechanisms and relate biomechanics to outcomes. Recent studies focus on developing assessments of cognition, memory and behavior in piglets and humans to improve concussion diagnosis and evaluate efficacy of therapies and interventions. Dr. Margulies is a Fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, Biomedical Engineering Society, and American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering.


Hosted by

Dr. Christine E. Schmidt