New Technology Could Save Soldier Lives

Dennis Faas's picture

Military scientists are in the midst of developing new technology that, if successful, will increase safety during times of war and change the face of battlefield health care. The new technology will be able to detect hidden brain injuries, critical for saving victims from the unseen.

For years, researchers have tried to develop a system for use on the battlefield to determine the severity of injuries experienced by soldiers who are near explosive devices when they detonate. Many problems in the past have resulted from troops being exposed to a blast, but showing no visible injuries. These soldiers may have suffered mild brain trauma or other hidden injuries that have often gone undetected and lead to serious problems in the future. (Source:

While researchers are still deciding which real-time technology they will ultimately pursue, the most viable candidate appears to be a hi-tech system that is able to monitor brain wave activity and cerebral blood flow. The doctor will then weigh the technological readings against the soldier's cognitive skills immediately following an explosion.

American researchers have also pursued an alternate device that resembles an oversized iPod and has an electrode strip that can indicate whether a patient's brain functions deviate from normal.

The U.S. government recently dedicated $450 million towards research for the treatment of brain injuries. The added funding comes after it was announced that an estimated 40 percent of combat soldiers in Iraq have suffered from some form of head injury since their deployment. (Source:

In the past, it was almost impossible to detect a battlefield head injury, except for a penetrating wound or a state of unconsciousness. Scarier still, CAT scans have often completely missed a problem.

What happens is that the acceleration force of a bomb is able to stretch the brain's nerve fibres, but the stretching may not be able to manifest itself until days or weeks later. When the nerve fibres are eventually stretched, the soldier may appear confused, anxious and experience a variety of strange symptoms, including hearing loss. (Source:

Many are hoping that the recent active approach made by the governments of Canada and the U.S. will be the gateway into finding new ways to detect those hidden injuries experienced during combat.

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