Research is underway on designing new helmets to protect U.S. military members from injury and allow them to do their job effectively while on missions.
The complex research is aimed at allowing versatility in combat as well as protection from a traumatic brain injury. The U.S. military has been testing helmet prototypes under a variety of conditions, including what would happen with a bomb blast from an improvised explosive device.
“It's almost like trying to protect against the wind. You don't know where it is going to come from. You don't know how strong it is going to be, It could be ball-bearings. It could be frag. It could be nails. It could marbles.It could be rocks,” said Don Lee, a researcher on the project.
The design of the new helmets is being done by the US Army Natick Laboratories, which are also known as Helmet Electronics and Display System Upgradeable Protection or HEaDS-UP.
One aspect of the study includes testing the pressure that would come from a blast using a computer model.
That study was done at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory in Washington D.C.
“What we found is that adding these optional shields to the helmet actually does block these pressure waves in some of the cases, but they can trap these pressure waves in other cases,” supervising engineer David Mott said.
Mott said there are a number of factors that affect that pressure, including the direction of the blast and the reflection from the torso.
“We think we need to look more closely at the full systems, including what's on the torso, the armor, (anything) potential, maybe a collar (and) any other equipment that's held on the body,” Mott said.
The Army and Navy say they are working together on a number of ways to reduce traumatic brain injury, and these prototype helmets are still in the research phase.