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Old 22 December 2016, 07:25
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24/7 24/7 is offline
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Just let me know.

Something else (another do-da) I posted somewhere else.

Are overpressure sensors a Pandoraís Box?

Early in 2014 DoD adopted an environmental sensor system developed by DARPA. This technology is worn by soldiers when deployed and will provide quantifiable overpressure and acceleration data should the individual be exposed to a blast event. The default thresholds used on the sensors are derived from previous DARPA studies, when suprathreshold overpressure is measured by the sensor a light response will display when that device is queried. By quantifying the exposure the combat medics can better identify personnel who could be at risk of sustaining mTBI due to this mechanism of injury.

DoD has issued guidelines that addresses exposures occurring OCONUS, I believe the overall sensor data flow functions adequately, a mechanism is in place and Iím sure itís working as designed. When a soldier is deployed and his sensors record an overpressure event meeting DoDís established criteria, the event and follow-on MACE exam will become part of the individualsí eMR.

Generally speaking, military members will train for combat more than they will engage in combat and overpressure exposures do occur during training, please note, I said exposures not injuries. Artillery, mortars, breaching operations and shoulder fired recoilless rifles all have the ability to produce suprathreshold overpressure exposures but those training exposures are not captured. Why, because the sensors are not being worn, this is not good in my humble opinion. If the individuals sensor records and 10psi peak pressure exposure while heís deployed, a MACE exam is conducted and a note will be put in the eMR, why then, doesnít an exposure of the same magnitude occurring at a firing range get the same documentation? Being intellectually honest, is it also possible that this individuals gauges record multiple events during the same training day? Is it also plausible that a soldier will disregard symptoms of mild TBI and chalk it up to wearing a helmet all day or being hydrated and suck it up and drive onÖ

I donít believe that there will ever be a 100% consensus on whether or not overpressure is a component of mild-TBI, but I do know that it is not difficult to find research papers suggesting a strong link, having said that, there are also papers suggesting that there may also be a concussive link to low-level repetitive exposure to blast.

Why arenít environmental sensors worn by the troops when theyíre conducting specific training events where overpressure/acceleration exposure could be expected? Cost possibly. The administrative burden associated with the sensors themselves, training, activation & association of the gauge with the wearer then conducting post exposure checks and MACE exams, maybe. This is where the analogy Pandoraís Box comes into play, could there a component of ďwhat we donít know wonít hurt usĒ? Personally, I believe that some camps within government are very risk adverse, but overall risk mitigation is a good thing. I also believe that risk aversion can spin off unintended consequences in the form of over-reaction. As with most new technologies, some growing pains can be expected, I believe with careful planning and thoughtful due diligence the unknown consequences can be mitigated through quality education and training. So, I believe the answer to the Pandoraís analogy is ďNoĒ

These sensors provide quantifiable exposure data that has never been available before, personally Iím a huge proponent of the technology. Itís new, I know that many are wrestling with the thresholds, some feel the defaults are too low, others say - too high, What does it all mean now and more importantly what does it mean in 10 or 20 years when the service member retires.

In closing, I am of the opinion that overpressure environmental sensors have a place in training, I hope that I see them incorporated into both combat and training. If science confirms that overpressure is a component of injury we owe it those who are getting exposed to quantify and document their exposures.
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