Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is the signature wound of conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Conservative estimates put the number of U.S. warfighters who have experienced TBI at more than 200,000.
Battlefield medical personnel today rely on visual signs and the personal accounts of patients to alert them to the possibility of TBI. The DARPA Blast Gauge provides a quantitative means for measuring blast related exposure, thus providing a mechanism for medical personnel to better identify those at risk for TBI. The gauge collects quantitative data to provide medics with a screening tool and data for uncovering the mechanisms of TBI.
During a recent engagement, a soldier suffered a shrapnel injury and did not report a blast exposure to the medic treating his visible wounds. The medic opted to check the Blast Gauges on the soldier, which told the real story.
The soldier’s gauges displayed yellow lights, indicating a moderate exposure occurred during the engagement. In response, the medics downloaded data from the gauges and followed standard protocol for evaluating someone at risk for TBI. It was determined that the soldier had suffered a mild TBI and treatment began immediately.
This is one example drawn from DARPA’s pilot testing of the Blast Gauge, which began last year.