DARPA’s brain injury ‘blast gauge’

This Editor, as our long-term readers know, has been following the issue and the dangers of soldier TBI and PTSD for several years. One of the problems with TBI is measuring the amount of blast a soldier has actually sustained in battle–and thus the medical danger. A cheering development is the further development of the ‘blast gauge’ developed by DARPA and the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), the testing of which we noted in mid-2012 [TTA 12 June 12]. It is now smaller than a wristwatch (now thumb-sized) and worn in three positions attached to a soldier’s body armor: chest, shoulder and back of helmet. As in the wristwatch model, there’s a red-yellow-green light for an instant read, in addition to the downloadable data which a medic can interpret on a laptop using a USB cable. It is now being worn by 11,000 US troops and 1000 Australian soldiers in Afghanistan.

 This data also goes into a database which will eventually detail every blast: power, size and type of explosive (based upon post-blast investigation), terrain, surrounding area (walls, ditches), height and orientation of the soldier, vehicles and whether their doors are open or not. Black Box Biometrics, founded by the main RIT researcher, electrical engineer Dr. David Borkholder, has been contracted to train these troops and further develop the device in conjunction with DARPA. Longish, somewhat mistitled article for the general market, with most of the key information is in the last half, but worth the read. How a Thumb-Sized Gauge Is Revolutionizing Traumatic Brain Injuries (The Daily Beast) Does this have implications for (North American) football and hockey tracking devices, dealing with the parallel issue of cumulative head blows?

Related: Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks, announced that he is providing $30 million for research and treatment of TBI and PTSD, support for those with it and job hiring/training efforts for veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan. He had previously pledged to hire 10,000 veterans and military spouses. No details yet on the direction of funding for research and treatment. The Daily Mail cites a 20 percent PTSD rate for veterans, with the Army reporting 152,985 cases between 2000 and 2014. Also Los Angeles Times

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