Assessing medical standards for blast injury prevention
The Blast Injury Research Program Coordinating Office held a two-day conference Feb. 2-3 in Chantilly, Va., to evaluate blast injury prediction tools.
"We owe it to our warfighters to identify and use the very best available injury prediction tools for developing effective blast injury protection equipment," said Mike Leggieri, Blast Injury Research Program Office director.
The conference was sponsored by the Department of Defense Blast Injury Research Program Coordinating Office. The PCO is focused on the prevention, mitigation, and treatment of blast injuries, The PCO has been chartered to coordinate all DoD blast injury research efforts thereby providing a joint focus and a common framework across the Department.
In support of this charter, the PCO is developing an open and independent evaluation process called the Blast Injury Prediction Tool Assessment Process. The BIPTAP assesses the viability of existing blast injury prediction tools, which include human effects models and associated software applications, for consideration by the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs as the basis for DoD blast injury prevention standards. The initial evaluation focused on tools for predicting blast-related toxic (fire) gas inhalation injury.
Leggieri said, scientifically-valid injury prediction tools are the cornerstone of the protection system development and testing process.
Representatives from DoD, other Federal agencies, academia and industry met to evaluate candidate fire gas inhalation injury prediction tools and to identify which tool the PCO should recommend to Health Affairs as the basis for a blast injury prevention standard.
Over the two days, there were four sessions. They included the role of medical standards for blast injury prevention, the blast injury prediction tool assessment process, tools for predicting injury and preventing outcomes from exposure to inhaled fire gases, and the assessment status.
The 'aha' moment came when participants recognized that the injury prediction tool is only one component of a blast injury prevention standard, and that the other components--the testing methodology and risk acceptance criteria--must be developed in partnership with the medical, materiel development and operational communities.
"The meeting was very useful and the dialogue gave us a road map to develop blast injury prevention standards. We knew that we weren't going to have a perfect first meeting but we had to start somewhere. It was nice to see common ideas start to crystallize," said Leggieri.
After reflecting, he said, "At the end of the day, we (our office) want to make a difference in protecting the ones who are defending our nation. We must never lose sight of that."
The next challenge for the BIPTAP is to evaluate injury prediction tools for a new body armor performance standard that will open the door for the development of light weight body armor.