In this presentation, we review our recent work in using the combination of instrumented mouthguards and finite element modeling to correlate to cognitive changes in American football players. We employ custom fit mouthguards to compute obtain kinematics of the skull and then use the kinematics as boundary conditions in personalized computational models of the brain. Using Penn State’s Brain Simulation Research Platform, we can efficiently run large-scale jobs and generate an array of injury metrics such as strain and strain rate for each impact.
Our study was conducted with the Western Carolina University football team during the fall 2023 season. We establish baseline cognitive measurements for each player using ImPACT, an FDA-approved concussion assessment tool, before tracking them through games and practices. Each identified head impact over 30Gs was followed by an immediate cognitive test using ImPACT again, to detect any changes in cognitive abilities. Although we had a limited data set, with only 10 players, we found that some cognitive metrics, but not all, seemed to correlate with changes in brain strain. Larger study groups are needed, but the protocol and process of collecting data should be valuable to the community.