Session 5: Modeling Human Health Systems I

2:00 PM – 3:15 PM  | Room 61 (Lower level)

Concussion as a Complex System: Building a System Dynamics Model of Mild Traumatic Brain Injury

Elle L. Parks, Erin Kenzie, and Wayne Wakeland
Portland State University

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a transdisciplinary public health concern called “the most complicated disease of the most complex organ of the body.” Concussion (or mild TBI) is heterogeneous, and recovery trajectories remain unpredictable. Here we present a conceptual systems model (via a causal-loop diagram and other systems diagrams) of concussion synthesizing knowledge of physiological, cognitive, network-scale, emotional, and social factors. This work is based on a multi-year collaboration between systems scientists at Portland State University along with researchers, clinicians, and other stakeholders gathered by the Brain Trauma Evidence-Based Consortium.

Concussion, Complexity, and Uncertainty: Reflections on Building a Systems Model

Elle L. Parks and Erin Kenzie
Portland State University

Accurate diagnosis and effective treatment of concussion, or mild traumatic brain injury, is hindered by an imprecise classification system, a dearth of high-quality clinical trials, and lack of a shared mental model for the pathophysiology of concussion among the medical community. This presentation reflects upon the authors’ involvement in a multi-year, Department of Defense-funded project to build a system dynamics model of concussion, and focuses on the nature of scientific uncertainty, along with fundamental epistemological limitations imposed by the complexity of the issue and the limitations of reductionist science in addressing the full scope of this transdisciplinary, multi-stakeholder problem.

A Simulation Approach to Assessing the Impact of a Cognitive Intervention on Depression

Andrea Wittenborn and Jennifer Rick
Michigan State University
Niyousha Hosseinichimeh
Virginia Tech
Hazhir Rahmandad
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Building off our prior research, we developed a system dynamics model of depression based on one of the major mechanisms of depression in the literature, ruminative thought. Using the model, we investigated the trend of depressive symptoms under different conditions and treatments for 32 unique types of patients. Our simulation outputs show the importance of individualized treatments and preventions with appropriate timing.

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Students in High School Algebra Build Pharmacokinetic Models Using System Dynamics

Diana M. Fisher
Portland State University

The use of system dynamics (SD) allows students in high school algebra to build models to study how drugs work in the human body. A three-day sequence of SD model-building and pharmacokinetic lessons, culminating with an alcohol model, have been used successfully in algebra classes for almost two decades. This paper will focus on the health related model-building lessons the students use. There are, however, ecological SD models the students build at other times during the year, in their algebra class. SD has proven to be an excellent analytical method (and tool) for bringing relevant, real-world applications into mathematics classes.

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