A pinboard by
The Sparrho Team

Established in 2011 with funding from The Royal British Legion and Imperial College London


Exemplar research findings from the fourth Annual Report, Apr 2016

From the Director's Foreword

This fourth Annual Report represents a very successful and very engaging year for the Centre, and with a renewal of funding from the Royal British Legion, the future looks very bright indeed.

The Centre also saw a milestone PhD awarded this year. Under the supervision of Professor Sara Rankin, Ashton Barnett-Vanes is the first PhD student directly and solely funded by the Centre. He successfully defended his thesis which investigated the inflammatory response in blast-related lung injury. The MB/PhD programme that Ashton undertook is designed to build on a scientific foundation and equip medical students with the confidence and skills to pursue areas of interest in a clinical, research-based environment.

-- Professor Anthony M J Bull FREng

Director, The Royal British Legion Centre for Blast Injury Studies at Imperial College London

Head, Department of Bioengineering, Imperial College London


What Is the Magnitude and Long-term Economic Cost of Care of the British Military Afghanistan Amputee Cohort?

Abstract: Personal protection equipment, improved early medical care, and rapid extraction of the casualty have resulted in more injured service members who served in Afghanistan surviving after severe military trauma. Many of those who survive the initial trauma are faced with complex wounds such as multiple amputations. Although costs of care can be high, they have not been well quantified before. This is required to budget for the needs of the injured beyond their service in the armed forces.The purposes of this study were (1) to quantify and describe the extent and nature of traumatic amputations of British service personnel from Afghanistan; and (2) to calculate an estimate of the projected long-term cost of this cohort.A four-stage methodology was used: (1) systematic literature search of previous studies of amputee care cost; (2) retrospective analysis of the UK Joint Theatre Trauma and prosthetic database; (3) Markov economic algorithm for healthcare cost and sensitivity analysis of results; and (4) statistical cost comparison between our cohort and the identified literature.From 2003 to 2014, 265 casualties sustained 416 amputations. The average number of limbs lost per casualty was 1.6. The most common type of amputation was a transfemoral amputation (153 patients); the next most common amputation type was unilateral transtibial (143 patients). Using a Markov model of healthcare economics, it is estimated that the total 40-year cost of the UK Afghanistan lower limb amputee cohort is £288 million (USD 444 million); this figure estimates cost of trauma care, rehabilitation, and prosthetic costs. A sensitivity analysis on our model demonstrated a potential ± 6.19% variation in costs.The conflict in Afghanistan resulted in high numbers of complex injuries. Our findings suggest that a long-term facility to budget for veterans' health care is necessary.Estimates here should be taken as the start of a challenge to develop sustained rehabilitation and recovery funding and provision.

Pub.: 02 Jun '15, Pinned: 16 Jan '17

A novel computational framework for deducing muscle synergies from experimental joint moments.

Abstract: Prior experimental studies have hypothesized the existence of a "muscle synergy" based control scheme for producing limb movements and locomotion in vertebrates. Such synergies have been suggested to consist of fixed muscle grouping schemes with the co-activation of all muscles in a synergy resulting in limb movement. Quantitative representations of these groupings (termed muscle weightings) and their control signals (termed synergy controls) have traditionally been derived by the factorization of experimentally measured EMG. This study presents a novel approach for deducing these weightings and controls from inverse dynamic joint moments that are computed from an alternative set of experimental measurements-movement kinematics and kinetics. This technique was applied to joint moments for healthy human walking at 0.7 and 1.7 m/s, and two sets of "simulated" synergies were computed based on two different criteria (1) synergies were required to minimize errors between experimental and simulated joint moments in a musculoskeletal model (pure-synergy solution) (2) along with minimizing joint moment errors, synergies also minimized muscle activation levels (optimal-synergy solution). On comparing the two solutions, it was observed that the introduction of optimality requirements (optimal-synergy) to a control strategy solely aimed at reproducing the joint moments (pure-synergy) did not necessitate major changes in the muscle grouping within synergies or the temporal profiles of synergy control signals. Synergies from both the simulated solutions exhibited many similarities to EMG derived synergies from a previously published study, thus implying that the analysis of the two different types of experimental data reveals similar, underlying synergy structures.

Pub.: 19 Dec '14, Pinned: 16 Jan '17

Informing phenomenological structural bone remodelling with a mechanistic poroelastic model.

Abstract: Studies suggest that fluid motion in the extracellular space may be involved in the cellular mechanosensitivity at play in the bone tissue adaptation process. Previously, the authors developed a mesoscale predictive structural model of the femur using truss elements to represent trabecular bone, relying on a phenomenological strain-based bone adaptation algorithm. In order to introduce a response to bending and shear, the authors considered the use of beam elements, requiring a new formulation of the bone adaptation drivers. The primary goal of the study presented here was to isolate phenomenological drivers based on the results of a mechanistic approach to be used with a beam element representation of trabecular bone in mesoscale structural modelling. A single-beam model and a microscale poroelastic model of a single trabecula were developed. A mechanistic iterative adaptation algorithm was implemented based on fluid motion velocity through the bone matrix pores to predict the remodelled geometries of the poroelastic trabecula under 42 different loading scenarios. Regression analyses were used to correlate the changes in poroelastic trabecula thickness and orientation to the initial strain outputs of the beam model. Linear ([Formula: see text]) and third-order polynomial ([Formula: see text]) relationships were found between change in cross section and axial strain at the central axis, and between beam reorientation and ratio of bending strain to axial strain, respectively. Implementing these relationships into the phenomenological predictive algorithm for the mesoscale structural femur has the potential to produce a model combining biofidelic structure and mechanical behaviour with computational efficiency.

Pub.: 05 Nov '15, Pinned: 16 Jan '17

Identifying Spinal Injury Patterns in Underbody Blast to Develop Mechanistic Hypotheses.

Abstract: A retrospective case series of UK victims of blast injury.To identify the injury patterns in the spine caused by under-vehicle blast, and attempt to derive the mechanism of those injuries.The Improvised Explosive Device has been a feature of recent conflicts with frequent attacks on vehicles, leading to devastating injuries. Vehicle design has evolved to reduce the risk of injury to occupants in underbody blast, where the device detonates beneath the vehicle. The mechanism of spinal injury in such attacks is not well understood; understanding the injury mechanism is necessary to produce evidence-based mitigation strategies.A Joint Theatre Trauma Registry search identified UK victims of blast between 2008 and 2013. Each victim had their initial scan reviewed to classify spinal fractures.Seventy-eight victims were identified, of whom 53 were survivors. There were a total of 284 fractures, including 101 thoracolumbar vertebral body fractures and 39 cervical spine fractures. Most thoracolumbar fractures were wedge compression injuries. Most cervical spine fractures were compression-extension injuries.The most common thoracic and lumbar body fractures in this group suggest a flexed posture at the time of injury. Most cervical spine fractures were in extension, which might be compatible with the head having struck another object.Modifying the seated posture might reduce the risk of thoracolumbar injury, or allow the resulting injury patterns to be controlled. Cervical spine injuries might be mitigated by changing vehicle design to protect the head.N/A.

Pub.: 17 Nov '15, Pinned: 16 Jan '17

Vertical accelerator device to apply loads simulating blast environments in the military to human surrogates.

Abstract: The objective of the study was to develop a simple device, Vertical accelerator (Vertac), to apply vertical impact loads to Post Mortem Human Subject (PMHS) or dummy surrogates because injuries sustained in military conflicts are associated with this vector; example, under-body blasts from explosive devices/events. The two-part mechanically controlled device consisted of load-application and load-receiving sections connected by a lever arm. The former section incorporated a falling weight to impact one end of the lever arm inducing a reaction at the other/load-receiving end. The "launch-plate" on this end of the arm applied the vertical impact load/acceleration pulse under different initial conditions to biological/physical surrogates, attached to second section. It is possible to induce different acceleration pulses by using varying energy absorbing materials and controlling drop height and weight. The second section of Vertac had the flexibility to accommodate different body regions for vertical loading experiments. The device is simple and inexpensive. It has the ability to control pulses and flexibility to accommodate different sub-systems/components of human surrogates. It has the capability to incorporate preloads and military personal protective equipment (e.g., combat helmet). It can simulate vehicle roofs. The device allows for intermittent specimen evaluations (x-ray and palpation, without changing specimen alignment). The two free but interconnected sections can be used to advance safety to military personnel. Examples demonstrating feasibilities of the Vertac device to apply vertical impact accelerations using PMHS head-neck preparations with helmet and booted Hybrid III dummy lower leg preparations under in-contact and launch-type impact experiments are presented.

Pub.: 15 Jul '15, Pinned: 16 Jan '17