I am a DESG graduate with a Mechanical Engineering background in the form of an MEng from the University of Bath, joining the scheme in September 2017. Within the WOME domain I have done placements in TCW PMO, Roxel UK Rocket Motors, and EOD & Search, and was fortunate to have completed the Explosive Ordnance Engineering MSc at The Defence Academy last year.
The majority of combat injuries sustained by the military in recent Middle East theatres of conflict have been caused by blast and fragmentation from IEDs, in a shift away from ballistic and impact injuries. Even when protected or shielded from fireball and fragmentation individuals can still be susceptible to the explosive shockwave itself, and an increasing prevalence of traumatic brain injuries (TBI) is noted amongst survivors.
Mild TBIs often see a delay in onset of symptoms making them difficult to attribute to a particular event, and often present symptoms very similar to post traumatic stress disorder. This serves to make them difficult to diagnose and treat, leading to significant financial and medical drains to the MOD, along with loss of capability.
Modern era combat helmets have different iterations and configurations to offer greater protection from impact or ballistic insult, to suit the theatre or operation, but incorporation of blast protection into the same mass-volume envelope is extremely challenging.
This project looked at energy absorbing capacity of current foam inserts which are fitted for comfort and stand-off purposes, and compares with other possible alternatives in an attempt to understand the mechanism of transmission of a blast wave into the head.