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The physics of explosives and blast helmets
Date:11/25/2008

November 25, 2008 -- Of all the threats facing U.S. soldiers in combat, among the most dangerous are roadside bombs and other improvised explosive devices (IED's). At the 61st Meeting of the American Physical Society's Division of Fluid Dynamics this week in San Antonio, Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) scientist David Mott is presenting research aimed at predicting the risk of traumatic brain injury for U.S. soldiers and other people who are wounded by improvised explosive devices.

There are a number of grave risks for people caught within the immediate blast radius of an explosion. These include severe brain trauma (e.g., concussion), pulmonary trauma (e.g., blast lung), and abdominal trauma (e.g., organ perforation or hemorrhage) caused by high values of blast overpressure; penetrating trauma caused by high velocity fragment impact; or severe blunt trauma (e.g., fractures and traumatic amputations) caused by lower velocity blunt impacts. For people who survive explosions, there is often significant risk of long-term injuries, including brain trauma if the shock wave acts as a blow to the head.

Mott and his NRL colleagues are developing sensors for Marine Corps battle helmets that will record blast events -- data that would provide the medical team better information for guiding triage and care immediately following a blast. The sensors could also store that history of trauma over the course of a deployment to help determine any potential cumulative effects.

"Our calculations support this effort by helping to understand what data we need in order to characterize the blast event and how to determine blast strength and directionality with a minimum of data recorded from the event," says Mott. Ultimately, he adds, the work may also suggest ways of improving helmet designs to better deal with explosions.

The work Mott is presenting in San Antonio was is collaboration between teams of researchers at NRL and Canadian Allen-Van
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Contact: Jason Bardi
jbardi@aip.org
301-209-3091
American Institute of Physics
Source:Eurekalert  

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