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The biomechanical mechanisms of concussion in sport


   Faculty of Life and Health Sciences

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  Dr Gregory Tierney, Dr Chris Bleakley  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

This studentship is based in Belfast. 

There is growing concern of long-term neurological consequences from repeatedly sustaining concussions in sport. Current on-field detection methods rely heavily on side-line medical practitioners to visually identify a concussion on the field. The approach is highly susceptible to human error and puts significant pressure on sideline medical practitioners. Instrumented mouthguards (iMG) and finite element brain models (FEBM) provide a unique opportunity to aid the concussion detection process to ensure players are safely removed from play.

This project will involved a large number of professional rugby atheltes wearing iMG for 3 seasons. iMG are mouthguards instrumented with accelerometers and gyroscopes to measure linear and rotational head accelerations during concussive and non-injurious impact events on the field. FEBM are state-of-the-art computational tools for examining the mechanical response of the brain at a tissue level to head trauma and can thus, identify the locations and quantify the magnitudes of deformation. Subject-specific FEBM coupled with cloud computing and machine learning techniques could enable FEBM reconstructions to be simulated in real-time. Recording and simulating a large number of concussive and non-injurious events will enable us to identify the most important biomechanical injury metrics for concussion prediction. The information gained from the project would be key to developing player welfare strategies, prevention technologies and could ultimately aid in sideline decision making process for player removal.

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