UVA Center Looking for Improved Ways to Safely Transport Soldiers

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As troops fight increasingly lethal wars, UVA’s Center for Applied Biomechanics, located in the UVA Research Park, is looking to reduce injuries from high-energy blasts underneath armored vehicles.

In response to powerful insurgent bombs, the military developed increasingly durable,  armored vehicles called Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected Vehicles – each with at least 36,000 pounds of nearly impenetrable steel designed to protect the soldiers inside from blast shrapnel. The MRAPs successfully deflected blast material away from the soldiers’ vehicle, but the energy contained in the blast wave remained a problem.

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“The military then began seeing a new kind of injury to soldiers,” said mechanical engineer Robert Salzar, a principal scientist at the University of Virginia’s Center for Applied Biomechanics. “These were unexpected injuries, the result of high energy entering the vehicle structure, and then [being transferred] into the warfighters’ bodies.”

These high-rate injuries often proved severe, often involving fractured bones in the legs and pelvis. If the broken bones severed an artery, the soldier risked death from the resulting loss of blood. And the survivable injuries resulted in extended hospitalizations, medical amputations, long rehabilitations and lifelong disabilities.

“We needed to know exactly when the body begins to break, and then come up with a design that would reduce the energy before we reach that point.”

Salzar and a team of researchers in the Center for Applied Biomechanics  – which primarily studies injuries that occur in car crashes – won contracts from the U.S. Army to design and conduct a series of studies to gain better understanding of under-body blast injuries, and to suggest injury-mitigating solutions that might be incorporated into the designs of the next generation of war-fighting vehicles.

Their task, essentially, was to simulate a blast environment in a laboratory setting, and, under measured conditions, gain intimate detail of what was happening.

– See more at: UVAToday.com

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