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Handb Clin Neurol. 2015;127:89-104. doi: 10.1016/B978-0-444-52892-6.00006-4.

Injury biomechanics, neuropathology, and simplified physics of explosive blast and impact mild traumatic brain injury.

Author information

1
Department of Neurology, F. Edward Hébert School of Medicine, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Bethesda, MD, USA; Integrated Services Group Inc., Potomac, MD, USA. Electronic address: fbandak@usuhs.mil.
2
Department of Neurology, F. Edward Hébert School of Medicine, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Bethesda, MD, USA.
3
Integrated Services Group Inc., Potomac, MD, USA.
4
Department of Neurosurgery, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT, USA.

Abstract

Explosive blast shock waves and blunt impact to the head are two types of loading shown to result in mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI). While mTBI from these two causes shares some common features behaviorally, there are distinct differences in the pathophysiology of the underlying injury mechanisms. Various elucidations have been offered in the literature to explain the organic damage associated with mTBI resulting from both types of loading. The current state of understanding in this field is somewhat limited by the degree of appreciation of the physics and biomechanics governing the effects of explosive blast shock waves and blunt impact on the head, which has resulted in the various approaches to the investigation of the operative brain injury "wounding mechanisms". In this chapter we provide a simplified description of terminology associated with forces on the head from explosive blast shock waves and blunt impact, to assist readers in the field in evaluating interpretations of brain injury "wounding" processes. Remarkably, mTBI from either loading is shown generally to result in only a small loss of neurons, with hippocampal neurons appearing to be particularly vulnerable to explosive blast shock waves. Explosive blast studies in large animal models show a unique pattern of periventricular injury, which is different from the classic diffuse axonal injury. Both astrocyte and microglial activation are also seen in explosive blast as well as impact trauma, but this may be a general secondary brain injury response, nonspecific to explosive blast or blunt trauma. Additionally, while moderate to severe impact closed head injuries sometimes result in petechial hemorrhages or hematomas, they do not appear to be associated with explosive blast mTBI even with repeated exposure to blasts.

KEYWORDS:

Injury biomechanics; acceleration; concussion; explosive blast; impact; mTBI; neuropathology; shock wave

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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