Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


To, Filip S. D.

Committee Member

Carr, Russell

Committee Member

DuBien, Janice

Committee Member

Priddy, Lauren

Date of Degree


Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access


Biomedical Engineering

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D)


James Worth Bagley College of Engineering


Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering


Subconcussive (SC) impacts have become a growing concern within the neuroscience community regarding the immediate and long-lasting effects of sports-related injuries. While a single low-level impact, i.e., a subconcussion, may not cause cerebral perturbations, it has been increasingly recognized that repeated SC exposure can induce deleterious effects. Therefore, determining the lower limits of systematic perturbation resulting from multiple SC impacts is of critical importance in expanding our understanding of cerebral vulnerability and recovery. Currently, there is a lack of correlation between a mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) and repeated SC impacts with respect to injury biomechanics. Moreover, the cumulative threshold for repetitive low-level impacts is currently undefined. Thus, this research was designed to determine the pathophysiological differences between a single impact of an mTBI and repeated SC impacts with a subdivided cumulative kinetic energy of the single mTBI impact. In order to address this gap in knowledge, the present investigation employed a surgery-free, closed-head, weight drop injury device capable of producing repeatable, head impacts within a rat model. General locomotion and anxiety-like behavior were assessed using an Open Field Test and motor coordination dysfunction was measured using the rotarod assay. Neuroinflammation was measured using immunohistochemical assessment of astrogliosis (GFAP) and microgliosis (Iba-1) within the hippocampus. Additionally, immunohistochemical assessment of neuronal loss (NeuN) was measured within the hippocampus. To investigate the tolerance and the persistence of cerebral vulnerability following a single mTBI and repeated subconcussive impacts, measurement outcomes were assessed over two-time points (3- and 7-days) post final impact. Although injury groups were not statistically different from their associated sham groups with respect to behavioral outcomes; on average, RSC injury rats displayed a significant increase in anxious-like behavior after 7-days of recovery compared to the single mTBI group. From an inflammatory perspective, both mTBI and RSC injury groups led to extensive microgliosis in the gray matter following 3-days post-impact. Overall, this work’s findings do not provide evidence in support of the notion that repeated subconcussive impacts do result in behavioral disturbances and neuroinflammation, that do not manifest following a single mTBI of the same energy input.