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Q: What type of injuries result from blast exposure?
Blast injuries range from internal organ injuries, including lung and traumatic brain injury (TBI), extremity injuries, burns, hearing and balance injuries, ocular and vision injuries, and hemorrhage (internal or external bleeding). Multiple types of injuries often result from a single blast exposure, making blast injuries complex.Learn more
about specific blast-related injuries.
Q: Do blasts cause concussions or mild traumatic brain (TBI) injuries?
Blast-related TBI is commonly caused by the secondary and tertiary blast mechanisms (blast winds propel fragments against the body causing damage [secondary] or propel the body causing injuries similar to those that occur in a car crash or fall [tertiary]). The existence of brain injuries caused by the primary mechanism of blast alone, without secondary or tertiary head impacts, is a topic of continuing study within Department of Defense (DoD) research programs. The DoD Blast Injury Research Coordinating Office (BIRCO) hosted their first State-of-the-Science (SoS) meeting in 2009 on "Non-Impact, Blast-Induced Mild Traumatic Brain Injury" to address this specific question by critically examining research focused on the relationship between blast exposure and non-impact, blast-induced mild TBI and reviewing proposed injury mechanisms.Learn more
about the findings from this meeting.
Q: What is the definition of blast injury?
A blast injury is a complex type of physical trauma resulting from direct and/or indirect exposure to an explosion. To define the scope of injuries caused by exposure to blast, the Department of Defense (DoD) adopted the Taxonomy of Injuries from Explosive Devices, which provides a common framework for characterizing blast injuries within the DoD. This taxonomy assigns blast injuries to five categories – Primary, Secondary, Tertiary, Quaternary, and Quinary – based on the mechanism of injury.Read more
Q: Does the Department of Defense (DoD) Blast Injury Research Coordinating Office (BIRCO) provide research funding?
The BIRCO does NOT provide research funding in the form of grants or contracts; however, the BIRCO website includes a collection of information and links to background information and funding opportunities across the DoD as a resource to the research community.Read more
Q: What is the role of the Department of Defense (DoD) Brain Health Research Program Coordinator?
The Brain Health Research Program Coordinator supports the DoD Executive Agent (EA) for Medical Research for Prevention, Mitigation, and Treatment of Blast Injuries
responsibilities to disseminate neurological and psychological health research and clinical practices information, facilitate collaboration, and promote information sharing among medical and non-medical researchers and clinicians not only within the DoD but in other federal agencies, academia, and industry, both within the US and internationally. Coordination activities include: organizing and overseeing multidisciplinary expert panels and State-of-the-Science (SoS) meetings to identify brain health knowledge gaps; engaging diverse brain health stakeholders through presenting at professional meetings and conferences; participating in the medical science and technology planning and review activities of the DoD and Services to identify opportunities for collaboration; advising DoD leadership on brain health knowledge gaps to ensure that current and future research adequately addresses the recognized gaps; and participating in national and international research collaboration activities that address brain health issues.Read more
about the activities and accomplishments of the Brain Health Research Program.
Q: How does the Department of Defense (DoD) Blast Injury Research Coordinating Office (BIRCO) define Brain Health?
The BIRCO defines brain health as the research, education, and clinical care that encompasses the continuum of care in neurotrauma and psychological health. This includes prevention, protection, identification, evaluation, treatment, rehabilitation, and recovery of brain injury, resilience, and brain trauma-related neurodegeneration. This definition is based on Section 256 of Public Law 109-163, National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for fiscal year 2006
Q: Where is the Department of Defense (DoD) Blast Injury Research Coordinating Office (BIRCO) located?
The BIRCO is a staff element of the U.S. Army Medical Research and Development Command which is located at Fort Detrick, Maryland.
Q: Who does the Department of Defense (DoD) Blast Injury Research Coordinating Office (BIRCO) work with?
In support of the DoD Executive Agent (EA) for Medical Research for Prevention, Mitigation, and Treatment of Blast Injuries responsibilities to facilitate collaboration and promote collaborations, the BIRCO works with a diverse community of medical and non-medical stakeholders within the DoD, other federal agencies, academia, private sector, and international communities. For a list of specific organizations that the BIRCO has worked with, see our Partners
Q: Why was the Department of Defense (DoD) Blast Injury Research Coordinating Office (BIRCO) created?
In 2006, blast injury research efforts in the DoD were fragmented, resulting in challenges in identifying the critical knowledge gaps needed to focus and prioritize current and future blast injury research efforts. In addition, the breadth of injuries associated with explosive weapons during the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan had increased significantly relative to previous conflicts.
Congress recognized the need to better protect and care for Service Members and codified the establishment of a DoD Executive Agent (EA) for Medical Research for Prevention, Mitigation, and Treatment of Blast Injuries, resulting in the creation of the BIRCO in 2007 to act as the execution arm of the EA. This created a centralized function within the DoD to focus and coordinate DoD blast injury research efforts and facilitate collaboration with research expertise outside the DoD.Read more about the history of the BIRCO
Q: What types of events does the Department of Defense (DoD) Blast Injury Research Coordinating Office (BIRCO) typically host or participate in?
The BIRCO staff participates in as well as hosts and organizes various local, national, and international research collaboration meetings, supporting the DoD Executive Agent (EA) for Medical Research for Prevention, Mitigation, and Treatment of Blast Injuries responsibilities to promote information sharing, disseminate blast injury research information, and facilitate collaboration across the DoD, academia, and industry. Read more
about meetings that the BIRCO participates in or check out our events calendar
for a list of past and upcoming events.
Q: What is an Executive Agent?
The Department of Defense (DoD) Executive Agent (EA) for blast injury research is one of multiple DoD EAs.
As defined in the DoD Directive 5101.1
, "the DoD Executive Agent is the head of a DoD Component to whom the Secretary of Defense or the Deputy Secretary of Defense has assigned specific responsibilities, functions, and authorities to provide defined levels of support for operational missions, or administrative or other designated activities that involve two or more of the DoD Components. The nature and scope of the DoD Executive Agent's responsibilities, functions, and authorities are prescribed at the time of assignment and remain in effect until the Secretary of Defense or the Deputy Secretary of Defense revokes or supersedes them. The DoD Executive Agent may delegate, to a subordinate designee within that official's Component, the authority to act on that official's behalf for any or all of those DoD Executive Agent responsibilities, functions, and authorities assigned by the Secretary of Defense or the Deputy Secretary of Defense." (Office of Administrative Assistant to the Secretary of the Army - DoD Executive Agents [EA]
Q: What is the purpose of the International State-of-the-Science (SoS) Meeting Series?
The International SoS Meeting Series is a unique forum that leverages the expertise of scientists, engineers, and clinicians within specific blast injury topic areas to identify knowledge gaps and formulate recommendations to inform future blast injury research priorities and facilitate the development of blast injury prevention, treatment, and rehabilitation strategies. Past SoS meetings have addressed topics such as primary blast-induced traumatic brain injury (TBI), blast dosimetry, tinnitus, environmental sensors, chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), and wound infections.Read more
about the findings from each meeting.
Q: What is the Military Health System (MHS) Blast Injury Prevention Standards Recommendation (BIPSR) Process?
The MHS BIPSR Process is the Department of Defense's (DoD) first unbiased, stakeholder-driven process designed to identify and recommend blast injury prevention standards to the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs, the authority that reviews and approves DoD standards. Specifically, the BIPSR Process identifies and assesses existing candidate blast injury prevention standards and recommends which standards meet DoD Stakeholder needs with a suitable level of validity, rigor, precision, and confidence. The objective of the BIPSR Process is to ensure that the DoD uses the best available, scientifically sound, and biomedically-valid blast injury prevention standards that will protect our Service Members from blast injuries.Learn more
about the BIPSR Process.
Q: What is meant by Injury Prevention, Acute Treatment and Reset?
A: Injury prevention:
Medical research to prevent blast injury across the spectrum of potential injuries through establishing safety thresholds for human exposure to blast, enhancing diagnostic capabilities, supporting the design of protection systems, and strengthening guidelines for the safe use of weapon systems.Acute treatment:
Medical research to develop new diagnostic tools, clinical guidelines, therapies, and medical interventions to treat the spectrum of blast-related injuries with the goal to improve survivability and mitigate long-term disability for Service Members with injuries following blast events.Reset:
Medical research to advance strategies for reducing recovery time, improving rehabilitation programs, maximizing opportunities for return to duty and/or reintegration into the civilian workforce, and improving the quality of life for Service Members who have experienced blast-related injuries.Read more
about specific Department of Defense (DoD) accomplishments in each of these areas.