US Department of Defense
Advancing Blast Injury Research to Protect and Heal Those Who Serve

Investigating Mechanisms of Blast Injury

Exposure to blasts may result in numerous injuries that are complex, and not well described. Blasts may damage the human body by the effects of the shock wave, by penetration with flying fragments, and by the body being thrown into other objects. It is important to be able to reproduce these injuries in a well-controlled fashion in order to understand more fully how these unique injuries occur, and to design better treatment and personal protection approaches to avoid the negative long-term after-effects suffered by those injured by blasts. An April 2018 article in the Journal of the Royal Army Medical Corps , authored by researchers at The Royal British Legion Centre for Blast Injury Studies, Imperial College of London, reports on a range of experimental devices that have been developed for different blast injury models, their working methods, and main uses. These devices include the shock tube, split-Hopkinson bars, the gas gun, drop towers and custom underbody blast simulators. The authors include several key messages for those planning and conducting research to better understand blast-related injuries:

  • Using a range of experimental devices is essential to recreate the various injury systems related to blast injury.
  • The versatility of experimental devices ensures their adaptability to specific experimental models of blast injury in laboratory experiments using cell, organ, and animal models.
  • It is key that laboratory experiments are well-controlled both in terms of faithfully modelling the biological system and the loading of interest as they can provide robust, repeatable data for use by computational models that attempt to imitate the specific blast setting and injury or protection system of interest.
  • The importance, design, construction, and translation of these experimental devices require a wide range of expertise and are dependent on collaboration between researchers in science, engineering, and medicine.

    • Publications:

      Nguyen T-T, Pearce AP, Carpanen D, et al. (2018). Experimental platforms to study blast injury. J R Army Med Corps. Published Online First: 24 May 2018. doi:10.1136/jramc-2018-000966

Last modified: 30-Jul-2018