Acceleration-Deceleration Sport-Related Concussion: The Gravity of It All

J Athl Train. 2001 Sep;36(3):253-256.


OBJECTIVE: To discuss a newtonian physics model for understanding and calculating acceleration-deceleration forces found in sport-related cerebral concussions and to describe potential applications of this formula, including (1) an attempt to measure the forces applied to the brain during acceleration-deceleration injuries, (2) a method of accruing objective data regarding these forces, and (3) use of these data to predict functional outcome, such as neurocognitive status, recovery curves, and return to play. BACKGROUND: Mild concussion in sports has gained considerable attention in the last decade. Athletic trainers and team physicians have attempted to limit negative outcomes by gaining a better understanding of the mechanisms and severity of mild head injuries and by developing meaningful return-to-play criteria. Mild head injury in sports has become an even greater area of focus and concern, given the negative neurobehavioral outcomes experienced by several recent high-profile professional athletes who sustained repeated concussions. Applying the principles of physics to characterize injury types, injury severity, and outcomes may further our development of better concussion management techniques and prevention strategies. DESCRIPTION: We describe the search for models to explain neuronal injury secondary to concussion and provide an exploratory method for quantifying acceleration-deceleration forces and their relationship to severity of mild head injury. Implications for injury prevention and reduction of morbidity are also considered.