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Heading to Brain Injury Awareness Day

HEADS - Headborne Energy Analysis and Diagnostic System
Raising awareness for Traumatic Brain Injury today and everyday.

We're showcasing our Headborne Energy Analysis and Diagnostic System (HEADS), an innovative technology that helps medical professionals identify warfighters who may have combat-related head and brain injuries. We have also recently received a contract from the U.S. Army to manufacture 13,000 HEADS systems.

This year’s Brain Injury Awareness Day is hosted by the Congressional Brain Injury Task Force, which has more than 120 bipartisan House and Senate members working to educate and increase awareness of brain injury. The day also commemorates March as Brain Injury Awareness Month.

“Brain injury is often characterized as an invisible wound of war,” said Frank Crispino, director of Vehicle Protection Programs at BAE Systems. “When a soldier is involved in an explosion or blast, their head can move in several different directions — a common injury associated with Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).

“We might not be able to see what happened to the soldier out in the field at the time of the explosion,” Crispino continued. “But with HEADS, we can analyze the data to help paint a picture that can ultimately lead to better equipment and treatment for combat-related brain injuries.”

Soldiers operating in war zones can be subjected to explosive events and head impacts that can leave them with hidden brain injuries. Factors leading to TBI include high-energy explosions that create blast waves (front of a high pressure wave) and blast winds (mass displacement of air by expanding gases) and secondary fragmentation. The blast wave overpressure can cause tissue damage, especially in organs with different tissue densities, such as the brain. The blast often leads to various secondary body and head impacts, exposing the brain to blunt trauma and acceleration forces. Improvements in protective equipment and medical treatment have increased overall survivability rates, but, in spite of these improvements, some level of traumatic brain injury can still result.  

In partnership with DTS, we have developed HEADS to meet U.S. Army specifications. HEADS is a small sensor that monitors and records the overpressures and accelerations experienced through helmet movement. The sensor is designed to capture pressure as well as angular and linear accelerations experienced during traumatic events — information crucial in determining the potential for head and brain injuries.

HEADS is mounted on the inside surface of most combat helmets, without impeding the function of the helmet, and is inconspicuous to the user. If an explosion or impact event causes accelerations or pressures exceeding predefined thresholds, HEADS records the event. Data from single and multiple events is recorded and stored and can be later downloaded through a USB connection.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014
10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

First Floor Foyer
Rayburn House Office Building
Independence Avenue and South Capitol Street
Washington, DC 20003