A new system that uses a wireless implant has been shown to record for the first time how brain tissue deforms when subjected to the kind of shock that causes blast-induced trauma commonly seen in combat veterans. The consequences are dire, ranging from neurodegenerative diseases such as chronic traumatic encephalopathy to neuropsychiatric conditions such as depression and anxiety.
The new research involves the use of a biocompatible “soft magnet” wireless sensor, inserted into the brains of laboratory rats. Because the gel-like magnet has mechanical properties similar to that of brain tissue, it is able to move with the brain when exposed to blast trauma, said Babak Ziaie, a professor of electrical and computer engineering and biomedical engineering. Findings are detailed in a paper appearing on Friday (Nov. 20) in the journal Scientific Reports. “This is the first time that anybody has been able to measure brain deformation in real time wirelessly,” Ziaie said. Findings showed the brain does not move in a simple linear direction, but rather in a more complex motion covering a wide arc, likely resulting in greater damage than that caused by ordinary blunt-force trauma.