Capabilities | Injury Biomechanics

Quantico Breacher Injury Study
ARA led the Quantico Breacher Injury Study, which investigated the biomechanics of repeated, low-level (or occupational) blast exposure.

ARA performs research and development and test and evaluation to prevent, mitigate and understand injuries associated with blast, ballistic and impact loads.

ARA’s biomechanics capabilities range from full laboratory and field testing capabilities to comprehensive modeling and simulation (M&S).

Our lab uses state-of-the-art technology, and develops custom instrumentation, sensors and test equipment to perform blast, ballistic and impact testing on a full range of test subjects.

Our M&S group uses cluster processors and has the ability to leverage Department of Defense High Performance Computing Centers. We have developed and exercised physics-based finite element models, using tens of millions of nodes to solve complex problems of national interest.

  • Breacher Injury Studies
    ARA led the Quantico Breacher Injury Study, which investigated the biomechanics of blast exposure

    • QBIS is the first clinical study of injury effects of blast on humans, with loads measured using personnel-borne instrumentation
    • Effects measured using neurological assessments, auditory/vestibular evaluations and blood work. Results suggest a cumulative effect of repeated blast exposures
    • ARA is involved with two follow-on breacher studies
  • Ballistic Gear Evaluation (TSWG)

    Blast exposure of 100 psi at 3 feet

    • Objective – Determine whether primary blast-induced injury to lungs is increased by wearing ballistic protective gear
    • Approach – Free-field and shock tube tests use various human surrogates wearing ballistic protection
    • Findings – Level IV protective gear increases survivability. Level II and IIIA protective gear provide minimal protection
  • Helmet Blast Protection
    Helmet padding system with red dots noting the location of pressure transducers on the surrogate head

    • Objective – Compare different headform responses under blast, ballistic, blunt force loading
    • Approach – Conduct free-field, shock tube, linear impactor, ballistic tests, with and without helmets
    • Findings – Identify strengths and weaknesses and developed protocols for headform responses that can be traced to biological responses under identical test conditions
  • Comparative Headform Study
    Headforms evaluated during this effort

    • Objective – Compare different headform responses under blast, ballistic, blunt force loading
    • Approach – Conduct free-field, shock tube, linear impactor, ballistic tests, with and without helmets
    • Findings – Identify strengths and weaknesses and developed protocols for headform responses that can be traced to biological responses under identical test conditions
  • Human Injury and Treatment
    Screen capture from the HIT software showing personnel aboard a ship, with postures and color coding to indicate injury status

    • Simulation tool to predict injuries aboard a ship attacked with blast weapon and determine medical response
    • Model constructed on Endgame Framework, integrating injury, manning and medical response models
    • HIT model to be used by Navy Live Fire Test and Evaluation, medical logistics and manpower organizations
  • Machine Augment Composite-based Armor Concept (TSWG)
    MAC-based armor samples

    • Objective – Design lightweight MAC-based composite armor plates which minimize penetration and behind-armor blunt trauma
    • Approach – Live-fire testing and numerical modeling to iteratively develop engineered hard-armor solution
    • Findings – Numerical modeling and test data have good agreement; additional modeling and testing under way to achieve optimized armor solution
  • Helmet Sensor System Evaluation (USAARL)
    Instrumented helmet evaluation in a shock tube

    • Objective – Evaluate Generation I Helmet Sensor Systems (HSS) under blast loading
    • Approach – Shock tube and live-fire testing to compare HSS with Hybrid III measurements
    • Findings – Technological shortfalls prevent development of relationship between helmet measurements and head loads. Recommend improved sensors and padding, higher sampling rates
  • Breacher TBI Survey (NMRC)
    Breachers can receive multiple, small blast exposures daily during training or combat

    • Objective – Survey of civilian and military breachers to determine relationship between blast exposures and symptoms of neurological impairment
    • Approach – 130 breachers and 49 non-breacher respondents completed survey
    • Findings – Consistent positive relationships between extent of blast exposure and number and severity of neurological symptoms
  • Advanced Requirements for Crew Safety
    Screen captures from parametric simulations of vehicle occupants under blast-induced vehicle motion

    • Provide validated crew survivability requirements to experimentally verify a survivable vehicle design
    • Developed combat-relevant injury scoring systems performed finite element simulations to develop vehicle response survivability curves (VRSC)
    • Initial set of VRSCs completed, show that chin impacts on protective gear are significant source of injuries
  • Breacher Load Characterization
    Breachers conducting an interior breach during training activities are often located close to the charge and may be subject to blast reflections off the surrounding structure

    • Objective– Develop charts to determine safe standoff positions as function of charge size/type and configuration of the surrounding structure
    • Approach– Use finite element (SHAMRC) to supplement existing test data and develop charts for personnel conducting interior breaches.
    • Findings– SHAMRC validation successful. Parametric runs are ongoing
  • Biomedically Validated Human Computational Models
    LS-DYNA is used to model a vehicle occupant, protective equipment, seat and harness

    • Objective – Develop biomedically valid human computational models to predict blast-induced injury
    • Approach – Characterize physical threat environment, loading conditions and boundary conditions for verification and validation
    • Findings – Some of the best engulfing blast data on people in a model to date; compares well with test data
  • Modeling of Nanotube Deposition (NIOSH)
    Hybrid III headform with ARA-designed synthetic ear. One pressure transducer is mounted tangent to the outside skin and a second is collocated with the tympanic membrane

    • Develop physical ear surrogates for diagnosis of noise-induced hearing loss
    • Design human head/ear phantom for testing blast wave loading to the ear, including both air and bone conduction pathways
    • Physical models measure pressure and are suitable for relative comparisons of hearing protective equipment
  • Development of Vehicle Blast Test Protocols
    Blast testing of an armored vehicle

    • Objective – Develop standards for testing armored vehicles under blast loading conditions
    • Approach – Leverage the experience of numerous other vehicle blast tests at ARA
    • Findings – Identify guidelines for setting charges, preparing vehicle, and taking and analyzing data collected on the vehicle and occupants using human surrogates
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