Head and neck positioning impacts concussion chance — ScienceDaily

If you might be about to run headfirst into something, your reflex may be to tense your neck and stabilize your noggin. But according to new study from Stanford University that may possibly not be the ideal way to stave off a concussion. As an alternative, the results advise that your head’s placement is extra critical than regardless of whether you are tensing your neck.

It all arrives down to how your head accelerates backward soon after effects, which some consider is the key element managing concussion possibility. The get the job done was printed Aug. 20 in IEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engineering.

“We found it definitely interesting that your tender tissue — muscle groups, ligaments and tendons — isn’t really performing much to dictate how your head is rotating instantly soon after an effects,” claimed Michael Fanton, lead writer on the paper and graduate pupil in the lab of David Camarillo, assistant professor of bioengineering. “Whilst even a several levels of modify in your head-neck angle can truly change how a lot your head is rotated and as a result, likely, your possibility of concussion.”

The researchers designed their discovery in a model of the human head and neck, but verified what they found in a very similar design of a woodpecker, which can endure serious accelerations when pecking holes. It turns out they too may well be protected in section by the angle of their pecking.

A major shock

In a prior examine led by Calvin Kuo, who is a co-author on the new paper and graduated with his PhD this spring, the team tied miniature weights to people’s heads to tilt them backward. They then monitored how the head moved right after contributors either comfortable or tensed their necks. From this, the team created a uncomplicated pc design that recreated the way the head tilts ahead and backward.

The scientists ran simulations with this model that replicated small-impact forces and located tense neck muscle tissue slightly reduced head acceleration. But they also prolonged those people simulations to include things like larger-drive impacts — the types that could lead to concussion, this kind of as what somebody may working experience falling off a bicycle — with a great deal unique outcomes. When seeking at fast, difficult impacts, it does not appear to be to make a difference no matter if the neck muscles are tensed or calm.

“At first, we considered your neck muscular tissues could affect head acceleration and we wanted to determine out if that provided yet another approach for minimizing brain damage,” Fanton mentioned. “It was astonishing that in these shorter-duration impacts, the neck muscle mass are not carrying out a total whole lot.”

The worth of positioning

The researchers have been also curious regardless of whether head and neck positioning could change entrance-to-back again acceleration after a really hard, rapid strike. They ran their simulations with the head positioned at a huge wide variety of angles and discovered that compact variants in situation could indicate the variation amongst high and very low concussion threat. Their outcomes showed that equally the angle of the head and the place it is hit impact the subsequent rotation of the head.

All this raised the problem of how woodpeckers are able to endure so substantially pounding — thought to produce head-on accelerations 10 moments increased than those people that bring about significant concussions in athletes. So, the scientists developed a simplified head and neck model of a woodpecker and ran it via the very same positioning tests they experienced operate in the human simulations. What they discovered is that compact changes in situation could significantly alter the head acceleration the chicken expert. When the scientists aligned their model in the way actual woodpeckers hold them selves as they peck, they seen pretty low rotational acceleration.

However, the group cautioned that position by itself very likely does not make clear the woodpecker’s skill to withstand these forces. Scientists have proposed the sizing of their brains and options of their beak may perhaps be mitigating variables.

Focusing on avoidance

Whilst the Camarillo lab and many others in the field are finding that the neck muscular tissues and ligaments may well not avert the forms of head movement that direct to concussions, neck positioning is not a straightforward resolution. Positions that could protect against concussions may make folks much more vulnerable to other injuries, these types of as paralysis, and what protects 1 particular person could most likely raise the injuries threat of a different person associated in the identical influence.

“Discovering how sensitive the head is to slight modifications in positioning has implications on style and design of helmets and other protective machines,” Camarillo stated. “For case in point, could the facemask in soccer be offering a lever arm that provides to the rotation of the head and thus threat of concussion? Are downhill mountain bike helmets safeguarding the chin at the price of the mind? We hope to use this product we have developed to identify better structure geometry of helmets and likely for input to coaching on how to brace for effect.”

In the end, Camarillo is hoping this kind of modeling operate can support in building far better ways of protecting against head accidents.

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Materials furnished by Stanford University. Take note: Content may be edited for design and size.

Head and neck positioning impacts concussion chance — ScienceDaily