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Brain injury cases in military personnel exposed to improvised explosive devices (IED) in combat have been on the rise. In Iraq and Afghanistan improved helmets and body armor are not enough protection against blast wave threats. The United States military are sponsoring researchers and scientists around the globe to find the associations between pressure waves and traumatic brain injury (TBI).
Lack of accurate data and blast wave exposure information in returning soldiers has slowed the innovation needed to effectively diagnose TBI and other related brain injury as a result of pressure waves. More detailed data will be required to gain a better understanding of the mechanisms responsible for blast-induced TBI and to design and develop a more effective head protection system.
Understanding the impacts of blast wave in the brain could lead to understanding the best form of protection the head needs in such a scenario. Developing an accurate model suitable for the simulation of the mechanical behavior of the human brain under blast loading conditions could lead to significant advances.
This thesis introduces a research study on blast waves, the development of a realistic surrogate human head and brain, the data acquisition system which include the instruments needed to correctly identify and measure the attenuation of the pressure/blast waves in the head/brain and the analysis of the data acquired.
In designing the experiments, the RED Head (Realistic Explosive Dummy Headform) was fixed with strain gauges on the exterior to check for stress waves in the surrogate skull, and with a fiber optic sensor inside the brain for pressure measurement. Making use of a shock tube facility, there were 11 shots fired at different breech pressures, the lowest using a 0.01-inch Mylar® burst membrane and the highest using ten 0.01-inch Mylar® burst membranes. The results were then tabulated and presented; the aim is to study the propagation of blast waves and their attenuation within the experimental headform with a simulated brain.