Sensors warn of soldier brain injuries

Helmet-mounted devices provide data on magnitude and pressure of bomb blasts

BAE Systems will furnish sensors for helmets worn by soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan that can help warn of possible brain trauma resulting from close proximity to bomb explosions, reports

The company has won a $17 million indefinite-deliver, indefinite-quantity contract furnish the second generation of its Headborne Energy Analysis and Diagnostic Systems sensor to the military. The contract could potentially be worth as much as $105 million.

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BAE first introduced HEADS in 2008. Since then, BAE has delivered nearly 7,000 of the units to the Army and Marine Corps, company officials said in a July 6 announcement.

The sensors are needed to address the continuing rise in combat-related traumatic brain injuries which require immediate medical attention.

“Diagnosing mild to moderate combat-related [brain injuries] 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.

Once the Generation II HEADS sensor collects data indicating a blast has exceeded a certain threshold, then an LED located on the sensor begins blinking, he said. This signifies to soldiers that they may have sustained a concussion that warrants immediate attention.

The sensor uses radio frequency technology that can be read by an antennae, Coltman said. This capability offers a second warning system. When soldiers return to a forward operating base or similar facility, a series of strategically placed antennae can scan all HEADS units being worn by soldiers and send data to a computer that identifies any soldiers who may have sustained a blast-related injury, Coltman said.

The HEADS sensor provides medical professionals with important data that may help determine the severity of the possible TBI. Data gathered includes impact location, magnitude and duration of event, blast pressures, angular and linear accelerations, and the exact time of single or multiple blasts.

About the Author

William Welsh is a freelance writer covering IT and defense technology.


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