The Mechanics of a Blast Injury

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The Mechanics of a Blast Injury

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The Mechanics of Blast Injuries
Primary Blast Injury
Secondary Blast Injury
Tertiary Blast Injury
Credit
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The Mechanics of Blast Injuries

The Mechanics of Blast Injuries

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According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, since 2006, blasts have been the most common cause of injury among American soldiers treated at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.

Primary Blast Injury

Primary Blast Injury

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An explosion generates a blast wave traveling faster than sound and creating a surge of high pressure immediately followed by a vacuum. Studies show that the blast wave shoots through armor and soldiers' skulls and brains, even if it doesn't draw blood. While the exact mechanisms by which it damages the brain's cells and circuits are still being studied, the blast wave's pressure has been show to compress the torso, impacting blood vessels, which then send damaging energy pulses into the brain. The pressure can also be transferred partially through the skull, interacting with the brain.

photo credit: Graphic by Al Granberg, Krista Kjellman-Schmidt, and ProPublica.

Secondary Blast Injury

Secondary Blast Injury

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Shrapnel and debris propelled by the blast can strike a soldier's head, causing either a closed-head injury through blunt force or a penetrating head injury that damages brain tissue.

photo credit: Graphic by Al Granberg, Krista Kjellman-Schmidt, and ProPublica.

Tertiary Blast Injury

Tertiary Blast Injury

[ http://www.brainlinemilitary.org/imageshttp://www.brainlinemilitary.org/uploadshttp://www.brainlinemilitary.org/orighttp://www.brainlinemilitary.org/2011http://www.brainlinemilitary.org/ProPublica_Graphic3_FINAL.jpg ]

The kinetic energy generated and released by an explosion can accelerate a soldier's body through the air and into the ground or nearby solid object. Once the body stops, the brain continues to move in the direction of the force, hitting the interior of the skull and then bouncing back into the opposite side, causing a coup-contrecoup injury.

photo credit: Graphic by Al Granberg, Krista Kjellman-Schmidt, and ProPublica.

 

Graphics by Al Granberg, Krista Kjellman-Schmidt, and ProPublica. Use with permission. Third-party use restricted. www.propublica.org.

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