System dynamics modeling for traumatic brain injury: Mini-review of applications

Erin S. Kenzie, Elle L. Parks, Nancy Carney, Wayne Wakeland

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a highly complex phenomenon involving a cascade of disruptions across biomechanical, neurochemical, neurological, cognitive, emotional, and social systems. Researchers and clinicians urgently need a rigorous conceptualization of brain injury that encompasses nonlinear and mutually causal relations among the factors involved, as well as sources of individual variation in recovery trajectories. System dynamics, an approach from systems science, has been used for decades in fields such as management and ecology to model nonlinear feedback dynamics in complex systems. In this mini-review, we summarize some recent uses of this approach to better understand acute injury mechanisms, recovery dynamics, and care delivery for TBI. We conclude that diagram-based approaches like causal-loop diagramming have the potential to support the development of a shared paradigm of TBI that incorporates social support aspects of recovery. When developed using adequate data from large-scale studies, simulation modeling presents opportunities for improving individualized treatment and care delivery.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number854358
JournalFrontiers in Bioengineering and Biotechnology
StatePublished - Aug 12 2022


  • complexity
  • modeling
  • simulation
  • system dynamics
  • systems science
  • traumatic brain injury

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Bioengineering
  • Histology
  • Biomedical Engineering


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