Estimating Brain Biomechanics Using MRI

This study is currently recruiting participants. (see Contacts and Locations)
Verified July 2015 by National Institutes of Health Clinical Center (CC)
Information provided by (Responsible Party):
National Institutes of Health Clinical Center (CC) Identifier:
First received: June 30, 2012
Last updated: September 1, 2015
Last verified: July 2015

June 30, 2012
September 1, 2015
June 2012
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Develop improved MR imaging acquisition protocols for fast imaging of brain motion [ Time Frame: Ongoing ] [ Designated as safety issue: No ]
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Complete list of historical versions of study NCT01633268 on Archive Site
  • Acquire preliminary data needed for computer simulations of the mechanical response of the brain [ Time Frame: Ongoing ] [ Designated as safety issue: No ]
  • Characterize the stress and strain in specific brain structures during a mild head acceleration [ Time Frame: Ongoing ] [ Designated as safety issue: No ]
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Estimating Brain Biomechanics Using MRI
Estimation of Brain Biomechanics Using MRI


- The motion of the brain during normal activity, sports, or a blow to the head is not well understood. Researchers want to study methods to measure how the brain moves during small head movements. This information will be used to build models of how forces act on the brain. The information will help us understand brain injury. Brain movement will be studied through magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans.


- To see how the brain shifts in response to small head motions.


  • Healthy volunteers between 18 and 50 years of age.
  • Participants must be able to move their heads without difficulty.


  • This study includes a single outpatient visit that lasts about 4 hours. Participants may be asked to return for a second visit.
  • Participants will be screened with a physical exam and medical history. Women who can become pregnant will also have a urine pregnancy test.
  • Participants will have an MRI scan of the brain. The first part of the MRI will take baseline pictures of the brain. The second part of the MRI will involve small head movements. At their own pace, participants will initiate the movement of their head to the left during the scan. The participant will move their head back to the start position at their own pace, and may rest as often as they like.The total scanning session will last no more than 90 minutes.
  • After the scan, participants will complete a questionnaire about using the MRI and performing the head movements.
  • Participants may be asked to return for a second MRI scan. The same head movements will be done at this visit.

Objective: In this study we will develop and apply imaging techniques to perform the first three-dimensional (3-D) measurements of brain biomechanics during mild head movement in healthy human subjects. Biomechanics is the application of mechanics, or the physical principles in action when force is applied to an object, to the anatomical structure and/or function of organisms. Such techniques will be invaluable for building computational models of brain biomechanics, understanding variability of brain biomechanics across individual characteristics, such as age and sex, and determining brain sub-structures at risk for damage when movement of the head is accelerated, such as during a traumatic event.

Study Population: Measurements will be performed on 55 healthy men and women aged 18-50.

Design: We will build upon the model pioneered by our collaborator, Dr. Philip Bayly. The model places a human subject in a magnetic resonance (MR) scanner with an apparatus that supports the head and allows a specific range of motion. The head support is latched such that it can be released by the subject, which results in a rotation of approximately 30 degrees. Although the support is weighted so that the motion is repeatable if the subject is relaxed, the subject can easily counteract the weight. The resulting acceleration/deceleration is small (in the range of normal activities, such as turning one's head during swimming) and has been validated and used in other human investigations of brain biomechanics. The subject repeats the motion multiple times during the MR scan under their own volition and desired pace to measure motion of the head and brain.

Outcome measures: This project is a pilot study evaluating the potential of extracting three-dimensional estimates of brain deformation, such as strain measurements, using MR imaging. A primary outcome of this project will be a fast MR acquisition sequence for measuring 3-D brain deformation. The sequence will be evaluated by applying the protocol to human subjects, followed by preliminary quantification of the reproducibility and stability of deformation measurements.

Time Perspective: Prospective
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  • Healthy Volunteer
  • Traumatic Brain Injury
  • Brain Mapping
  • Craniocerebral Trauma
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
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*   Includes publications given by the data provider as well as publications identified by Identifier (NCT Number) in Medline.
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  • Between 18 and 50 years of age
  • Able to provide written informed consent
  • Able to lie flat for up to 2 hours
  • Able to turn head up to 220 times within 45 minutes without discomfort
  • Good general health based on History and Physical (H& P) or History and Assessment (H& A)


  • Contra-indications to MRI scanning without contrast based on RAD& IS department MRI safety questionnaire
  • Pregnancy
  • Inner ear problems causing vertigo
  • History of spinal cord injury, head injury or other musculoskeletal condition that may result in an aversion to or difficulty with turning one s head multiple times in succession
  • Claustrophobia (no sedation is permitted under this protocol)
  • Weight more than 250 lbs
  • Height greater than 6'4"
18 Years to 50 Years
Contact: Sarah H Yang (301) 451-1869
Contact: John A Butman, M.D. (301) 402-5827
United States
120139, 12-CC-0139
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National Institutes of Health Clinical Center (CC)
National Institutes of Health Clinical Center (CC)
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Principal Investigator: John A Butman, M.D. National Institutes of Health Clinical Center (CC)
National Institutes of Health Clinical Center (CC)
July 2015

ICMJE     Data element required by the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors and the World Health Organization ICTRP