The US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has unveiled a new hi-tech device designed to monitor warfighters' exposure levels to bomb explosions on the frontline.
The DARPA Blast Gauge is intended to act as a visual reference tool, displaying in numeric terms blast exposure levels. As a result, medical workers out in the field should gain a better understanding of the potential for resultant Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) - a condition that's become synonymous with the Afghan and Iraqi conflicts.
In a press release covering the DARPA Blast Gauge's launch, the agency describes one recent instance in which a warfighter received a Shrapnel injury but failed to inform the medic who attended to his superficial wounds that he'd experienced blast exposure, too. However, he'd been wearing a DARPA Blast Gauge, which showed that his exposure had been moderate. This prompted the medic to revaluate his condition and administer treatment in line with standard TBI risk procedures.
DARPA Blast Gauge
Developed in under 12 months by scientists at RIT (the Rochester Institute of Technology), the DARPA Blast Gauge is priced at $45 per unit and it's now being manufactured and sold by an RIT spin-off group called BlackBox Biometrics. As DARPA points out, the Blast Gauge doesn't meet the US Army's long-term need for a battlefield-based TBI evaluation system, but it does provide an immediately-deployable exposure measurement tool.
According to US Army representative Major Theodore Stefani, "the gauges work extremely well."
"The Blast Gauge does not diagnose a TBI, but it does help ensure that a soldier seeks care", he explained in the DARPA press release. "After a blast event, the soldier may downplay their symptoms, but if they have an amber or red indicator light on their Blast Gauge, that can't be downplayed."
Warfighter TBI Risk
Following an initial round of Blast Gauge warfighter TBI risk trials conducted in 2011, DARPA now intends to conduct a much larger series of trials involving thousands of US military personnel. Armed Forces International will look at these in future News coverage.
"The DARPA Blast Gauge provides doctors with information on what their patient actually experienced during an exposure", said DARPA program manager Jeff Rogers. "This is an entirely new capability and has already helped medics and doctors in treating injured warfighters."
Image copyright DARPA