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Sensors to measure traumatic brain injury in military

A $17 million U.S. army contract has been announced by a Phoenix company,  BAE Systems that will enable the company to introduce sensors that perform head-borne energy analysis and diagnose war-related brain trauma among soldiers returning from combat in Afghanistan and Iraq.

"Diagnosing mild to moderate combat-related TBIs can be challenging. For example, following an explosion from a roadside bomb, soldiers will sometimes continue with their mission, unaware that the concussion from the blast may have lingering effects," said Joe Coltman, vice president of BAE Systems' Personnel Protection Systems business.

"With the Generation II HEADS sensor, even if the injury isn't obvious, once the sensor collects data indicating a blast has exceeded a certain threshold, a LED light located on the sensor and will be activated and begin blinking, signifying to soldiers that they may have sustained a concussion warranting immediate attention."

While alerting soldiers and those around them of possible concussions, the HEADS smart sensor is designed to provide medical professionals with important data that may help determine the severity of a possible TBI.

"If a soldier is exposed to a blast, possibly sustaining a concussion, not only will the HEADS visual display be triggered at the time of the event, but once the soldier enters a specified area, such as forward operating base or dining facility, a series of strategically placed antennae will scan all available HEADS units and send data to a computer, identifying any soldiers who may have sustained a blast-related brain injury," he said.

The sensor itself is small, lightweight and can be secured inside virtually any combat helmet. Although imperceptible to the wearer, it is designed to continuously collect critical, potentially lifesaving data, including impact location, magnitude, duration, blast pressures, angular and linear accelerations as well as the exact times of single or multiple blast events.

That information is then stored until it can be downloaded and analyzed by medical teams using a simple USB or wireless connection.

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