U.S. Military Receiving Updated Blast Sensors for Head Injuries
Veteran Disability Lawyer
The U.S. Army is currently awaiting the delivery of 1,000 blast sensor packs to help specialists assess how soldiers are affected during and after exposure to explosions. The packs, called Soldier Body Units (SBU), consist of four sensors: the sensors collect data from the head and chest areas when soldiers are exposed to explosions to help determine if the blast could – or did – lead to a concussion or traumatic brain injury.
The SBU, which is worn like a small backpack, weighs a mere two pounds, and is always recording information, collecting data as part of a larger system, the Integrated Blast Effects Sensor Suite (I-BESS), which included sensors that are placed in vehicles for a wider range of blast environment assessment. Previous blast gauge systems recorded data only when sensing “overpressure.”
The sensors were developed in a joint project between the Georgia Tech Research Institute and the U.S. Army’s Rapid Equipping Force (REF). The goal is to have the new sensor system in place in time to deploy them with troops in Afghanistan before their scheduled withdraw in 2014. The data collected will then be processed by the Joint Trauma Analysis and Prevention of Injury in Combat, and the information examined by medical professionals to help assess when soldiers have had undetected head injuries.
Currently, the sensors cost approximately $2,500 each to produce – a steep climb from just $75 per unit to manufacture the old blast gauges, but the hope is that the cost will drop as SBUs are mass produced and the design is streamlined. The Army also is working to install floor-and seat-mounted accelerometers in more than 40 vehicles, to measure blast impact on soldiers who are inside vehicles when hit by improvised explosive devices. Engineers plan to install I-BESS sensors into vehicles currently in Afghanistan, rather than ship new vehicles there.