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Loughborough researchers win Mizuno Sports Award for their collaborative project with the Tokyo Institute of Technology

A group of researchers at the University have recently received the Mizuno Sports Award for their collaborative research with the Tokyo Institute of Technology.

a photo of the research being conducted using a helmet and head model

Brain Pressure Wave Propagation during Baseball Impact was presented to attendees at the 13th International Sports Engineering Association Conference (ISEA) last month by Jon Farmer, Dr Sean Mitchell and Dr Paul Sherratt of Loughborough University, and Professor Yusuke Miyazaki, Miki Morimatsu and Shota Ito of Tokyo Institute of Technology.

The collaboration began when Jon was awarded a Japan Society for Promotion of Science (JSPS) Summer Program Fellowship, where he spent three months conducting brain injury research in Tokyo with Professor Miyazaki. Professor Miyazaki has since spent six months at Loughborough’s Sports Technology Institute and during this time the baseball research was conducted.

The trio from Wolfson School of Mechanical, Electrical and Manufacturing Engineering led the experimental laboratory baseball impacts, where a high-speed ball cannon developed at the Institute was used to investigate the response of an instrumented surrogate head model (an artificial representation of a human head). The instrumentation measured the linear and angular response of the skull and the brain during the impacts.

Professor Yusuke Miyazaki developed the surrogate head model and also led on the computational simulations of the impacts when he returned to Tokyo.

The results of the experimental and simulated impacts showed that the peak acceleration of the brain was greater than that of the skull due to the propagation of pressure waves. Using the simulation of the impacts, Professor Miyazaki found that the pressure reached the cavitation threshold on a broad area of the brain surface repeatedly and highlighted a potentially different mechanism of injury to other sport impacts.

Their work suggested that a new helmet design for baseball that can reduce the effects of pressure wave propagation may be required in the sport to mitigate the risk of some brain injuries. The findings may also be of interest to similar projectile sports.  

The Mizuno Sports Award was awarded to the orally presented paper at the conference that demonstrated the highest quality of research in terms of methodology, approach and outcome with a significant impact on sports activities.

Talking about the award, Research Associate in Head Injuries Jon Farmer commented: “It is a huge honour to be a part of the team that has received this award, and it is testament to the quality of research at Loughborough University and the international collaboration we have established with the Tokyo Institute of Technology.”

This year’s ISEA conference took place online and featured over 166 papers, 123 presentations, and more than 1,800 participants from over 50 countries. Further information can be found on the dedicated website.