Helmet Sensors of Deployed Soldiers to Measure Impact Data

Soldiers in brigades from the 101st Airborne and the 4th Infantry divisions will be wearing sensor-equipped helmets throughout their deployments to Afghanistan and Iraq, with the sensors recording "routine impact data, as well as any blasts, or 'events' to which the soldiers are exposed," an article written by Fred W. Baker III of American Forces Press Service reports. DoD posted the article on its Web site on Jan. 14. Quoting Michael J. Leggieri Jr., deputy coordinator for DoD's Blast Injury Research Program Coordinating Office, the article says the data gathered at this point won't be used to diagnose or treat soldiers. "Still in its infancy," it says, "the technology's first [hurdle] will be to prove that a sensor reading can be matched to an event." Eventually, DoD hopes the sensors will enable faster treatment for soldiers' traumatic brain injuries.

Baker quotes Leggieri this way: "We need to figure out if we can actually, with some confidence, say that 'Yes, these data are representative of an event.' We don't know that yet."

Two existing databases are involved: an intelligence database of the National Ground Intelligence Center and a trauma registry, according to the article. "After the blast data is studied, and officials determine that it is reliable, they will then go back and match the event data with injury data," it explains. "The medical community has access to the data through the Joint Trauma Analysis and Prevention of Injury in Combat Program. Officials want to see if they can make a connection between what is seen on the sensor reading and any resulting injury. This will help them to begin 'unraveling' some of the causes of brain injury."

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