Head impact biomechanics for protecting the active ageing population
In Europe, the incidence of fatal and hospitalized traumatic brain injury (TBI) is 262/100.000/year. Lately, a significant increase in the proportion of elderly patients suffering TBI has been observed. This can be explained by changing demographics, better health status allowing them to remain fully active, but also by the presumed mechanical vulnerability of the ageing brain and surrounding tissues.
While staying active is rightfully promoted for the elderly, protective headgear customized to the ageing brain for recreational activities associated with a risk for TBI does not exist. Although ‘only’ 18% of the current Belgian population is over 65 year of age, elderly accounted for 38% of nonconcussion TBI hospital admissions and 32% of intensive care admissions in a recent study in Leuven.
The IMPAct Group will use its expertise to focus on the increasingly relevant subject of elderly TBI. This will be done by 1) studying injury patterns and risk profiles associated with elderly TBI, 2) experimentally assessing the age-specific material properties and injury thresholds of the relevant tissues (brain, meninges, vasculature) experimentally, 3) incorporating these findings into state-ofthe- art numerical head models, and finally, 4) integrating the obtained age-specific TBI mechanogenesis data into a set of injury thresholds. These can then be used for design of protective gear adapted to the active ageing.