Blast-induced traumatic brain injury, or TBI, is the “signature injury” of the recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.1 This injury occurs when an external force, such as an explosion, damages the brain. An estimated 20% of U.S. soldiers serving in the Middle East will suffer brain trauma as a result of IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices). Improved body armor has saved lives from projectiles, but the delayed dangers of brain trauma persist.
Diagnosing and treating brain trauma is particularly tricky, since the extent of the injury can’t be directly detected, and the severity depends on the strength of the blast, which doctors can’t observe. Furthermore, symptoms of serious damage don’t always appear right away. Slowly progressing brain damage can go undetected and undiagnosed, sometimes for years. To make diagnosis even more challenging, symptoms can mimic those of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Researchers are working to develop a type of “blast badge” to affix on the uniforms and helmets of soldiers in combat. The invention was inspired by the delicate beauty of the butterfly. Read more ...
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