The U.S. military’s Office of Naval Research (ONR) is reporting that it’s developing a system called BLAST (Blast Load Assessment Sense and Test) capable of detecting shocks powerful enough to cause concussions and to help assess the potential for traumatic brain injury.
The ONR team is currently testing specialty sensor that can withstand explosions while measuring the explosive impact of the blast. These are going to be coupled with an additional hand-held device that gently vibrates the fingertips and the person being assessed has to identify which finger the sensations come from. An inability to do this accurately may be an indication of a concussion. The military hopes that using these two components, the new BLAST system would be a standard tool for evaluating soldiers following explosions.
“Together, the components of BLAST can enable us to designate a pressure threshold number for when someone is at risk for TBI and needs to stand down for more advanced testing or medical care,” said Dr. Laila Zai, a scientist with ARA, a research and engineering company helping to develop BLAST, said in a statement. “Think of a speedometer. Whether you’re going too fast or slow depends on road conditions, and is indicated by the speed limit. BLAST determines a safe ‘speed’ for the brain.”
There’s still a few years to go for this technology to be implemented on the battlefield, but field tests and trials with actual soldiers are already being planned.