Applied Research Associates, Inc. (ARA) and Blast Analytics and Mitigation Inc. (BAaM) have partnered to create The Blast Mat™, an intuitive new training tool to help service members and law enforcement personnel mitigate the potential risk of negative impacts on brain health and other effects of blast exposure over time when operating various weapons systems.
As many as 10 percent of Warfighters have sustained clinically detectible traumatic brain injury (TBI), and multiple exposures – even sub-threshold – could cause cumulative injury.
“The idea behind The Blast Mat is to provide service members with a training tool to help learn the weapons they use to train more efficiently and effectively, and reduce or mitigate their blast exposure” said BAaM founder James Engall.
ARA Engineer Suthee Wiri said, “They can still train with these weapons systems, but we want to reduce potentially harmful blast exposure, and The Blast Mat is a tool to do that. The Blast Mat™ allows a proactive, rather than reactive approach, that gets to the left of exposure.”
The product can be used in the field on a range or inside the classroom to develop knowledge and muscle memory that will help service members know how to best position themselves while firing and training with weapon systems. The easy-to-understand mat was created by leveraging field-validated high-fidelity modeling and simulation of blast overpressure. It features colored contours to help warfighters visualize more optimal positioning while operating various weapons.
“For some weapon systems, even slight changes in positioning or posture can make a large difference in blast exposure levels,” Wiri said.
The team behind The Blast Mat™ is at the forefront of research into personal protection, traumatic brain injuries, and blast effects, with a combined 30 years studying the human effects of blast exposure and conducting high-fidelity modeling and simulation of blast overpressure.
“We are uniquely capable of running these simulations and having them validated in the field,” Wiri said.
“This user-friendly mat will allow service members to train smarter on a variety of weapons systems while reducing their blast exposure, sustaining lethality, and enhance mission readiness while promoting warfighter brain health.”BAaM Founder James Engall
So far, six versions of the mat have been designed for different weapons systems, with about a dozen more in the works. Current weapons systems include shoulder-fired weapons, .50 cal sniper rifles, howitzers, mortars, and explosive breaching.
“We are excited to debut The Blast Mat™ during the MHSRS (Military Health System Research Symposium) conference in Kissimmee, Florida,” said Engall. The Blast Mat will be featured in exhibitor booth 1301 on Aug 14-16, 2023.
Blast Analytics and Mitigation Inc. (BAaM) was formed as a strategic consulting and products company to leverage the institutional knowledge that our team has acquired on blast exposure monitoring in military operational surveillance and operational research environments. BAaM has been focused on educating high-risk blast exposure operators in law enforcement, and recently finished an operational program for the Los Angeles Police Department, Metropolitan division, D-Platoon. The team is led by neuroscientist James Engall who specializes in the aging brain and neurodegeneration and has devoted his career to understanding and developing solutions to optimize brain health.