Adding face shields to helmets could prevent blast-induced brain injuries

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

WASHINGTON - A new study has suggested that adding a face shield to the helmet worn by military personnel could help prevent blast induced head injuries.

Raul Radovitzky, of MIT, and colleagues reported that adding a face shield to the standard-issue helmet worn by the vast majority of ground troops could significantly reduce traumatic brain injury, or TBI.

The extra protection offered by such a shield is critical, the researchers said, because the face is the main pathway through which pressure waves from an explosion are transmitted to the brain.he researchers created models using magnetic resonance imaging of the head.

The researchers then added data collected from colleagues’ studies of how the brain tissue of pigs responds to mechanical events, such as shocks. They also included details about what happens to the chemical energy that is released upon detonation (outside the brain) that instantly converts into thermal, electromagnetic and kinetic energy that interacts with nearby material, such as a soldier’s helmet.

The researchers recently used the models to explore one possibility for enhancing the helmet currently worn by most ground troops, which is known as the Advanced Combat Helmet, or ACH: a face shield made of polycarbonate, a type of transparent armor material.

They compared how the brain would respond to the same blast wave simulated in three scenarios: a head with no helmet, a head wearing the ACH, and a head wearing the ACH with a face shield. In all three simulations, the blast wave struck the person from the front.

The analysis revealed that although the ACH - as currently designed and deployed - slightly delayed the arrival of the blast wave, it didn’t significantly mitigate the wave’s effects on brain tissue.

After the researchers added a conceptual face shield in the third simulation, the models showed a significant reduction in the magnitude of stresses on the brain because the shield impeded direct transmission of blast waves to the face.

The findings were published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. (ANI)

Filed under: Science and Technology

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