Improvised explosive devices (IEDs) have caused the majority of injuries in Iraq and Afghanistan, and thanks to a new piece of equipment, researchers may be better able to understand the impact of the blasts. About 7,000 soldiers in Afghanistan have been outfitted with gauges that can measure the effect blast waves have on the bodies of troops, The Associated Press reports.
The most important goal is perhaps to gain some insight into traumatic brain injuries, which have impacted more than 1,700 troops in the first part of this year alone. By analyzing everything from the speed, angle, direction and duration of the blast waves, neurologists may be better able to understand what causes the injuries.
"What in the explosive blast ultimately causes the injury? That’s what we really, really want to know," Army Col. Geoffrey Ling, a scientist at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), told the AP.
So far, the project has collected data on 24 different explosions and is indicative of a growing emphasis on studying and understanding traumatic brain injuries and post-traumatic stress disorder in soldiers. Most recently, the military teamed up with the charity Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund to build a clinic dedicated to brain injuries.