Warfighters who survive encounters with improvised explosive devices (IEDs) may incur mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) due to blast overpressure effects. Since existing head injury criteria are mostly based on head kinematics, head acceleration is one key metric to be measured. A blast wave travels at supersonic speed with a very sharp peak overpressure rise followed by a rapid decay within a short duration. For the surface area that is covered by the helmet, the cushion/suspension subsystem is responsible for mitigating the blast effects on the head, while the exposed area of the head or face would receive a direct blast loading. Computational fluid dynamic (CFD) simulations of a blast on an upright warfighter show a significant reduction in peak force to the head when a helmet is worn. For a helmet with an attached eye-shield, the load to the head from a front blast can be reduced further. A field study was conducted to verify that the increased load partitioned away from face and to the helmet and cushioning system would result in decreased head acceleration. Blast field tests were conducted using 4 lbs. of cylindrical C4 charges at 92″ standoff. Head acceleration was measured using combinations of a free hanging mid-size standard ISO headform fitted with Team Wendy (TW) pads, an advanced combat helmet (ACH), and an eye-shield. Tests were performed with the blast hitting the front, side and back of the helmeted headform system. Headform accelerations ranging from 120–465g were recorded based on blast direction and the amount of head protection. To validate the three-dimensional Navier-Stokes’ based CFD simulations, a custom-designed blast overpressure bust (BOB) containing 22 surface pressure sensors was mounted on top of the BTD to measure the pressure distribution over the head and face when exposed to a blast. The incident overpressure of the blast was 0.25MPa, with reflected pressures reaching 1.0MPa.

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