How do we help our soldiers safe, or safer, from brain injury while they’re in combat? How about face shields?
A new study has found that putting face shields on soldiers’ helmets can better protect them from brain damage caused by explosives, which make up more than half of all combat-related injuries suffered by our troops, according to Bloomberg News.
In simulations using computer models, researchers learned that pressure waves from an explosion reach the brain through a soldier’s face. But by attaching a face shield, made of transparent armor material, to advanced combat helmets (ACH) “significantly impeded direct blast waves to the face, mitigating brain injury,” Bloomberg News reported.
The research was conducted by Raul Radovitsky, an associate professionr at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
He collaborated with Dr. David Moore, a neurologist at the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center at Walter Reed army Medical Center. They tested how the brain would respond to a “frontal blast wave” with a head with no helmet, a head with an ACH, and a head wearing an ACH with a face shield.
The research found that the ACH just delayed the pressure wave’s hitting brain tissue, but didn’t substantially hinder its impact on the brain. In contrast, the face shield substantially reduced the pressure wave’s impact on the brain, according to Bloomberg News
The study was reported online in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The U.S. Department of Defense says that roughly 130,000 service members in Iraq and Afghanistan have suffered traumatic brain injury from explosions. I’d put the number at mich higher than that.