Blast injury research centre opens at Imperial

Blast injury research centre opens at Imperial
A new multi-million pound centre aimed at improving body protection and vehicle design for soldiers in Afghanistan has been opened at Imperial College London.

The £8million Centre for Blast Injury Studies is the first of its kind in the UK. It will see civil engineers and scientists work alongside military doctors to increase understanding about blast injury patterns, improve treatments and recovery and develop better ways of protecting those serving in current and future conflicts.

The Royal British Legion is providing £5 million towards the research. Chris Simpkins, the charity's director general, said: "The centre aims to improve treatment and recovery for those injured serving their country, as well as to reduce the number and extent of blast injuries in the first place.

"We are very proud to be supporting Imperial's pioneering and world class work in this field. We are making a long term investment in the welfare of all who serve."

Imperial researchers have already developed a novel test rig that simulates the impact of a human leg against a vehicle floor as a bomb explodes beneath it.

They are now looking to develop an intelligent combat boot filled with putty that absorbs and then deflects the impact of anti-vehicle mine blasts.

The boot will be designed to transfer the blast energy away from the hind foot (which, if damaged can often lead to amputation) towards the shin bone, which can be more easily reconstructed.

The researchers at the centre are also hoping to develop a test that can detect at the molecular level the early onset of Blast Lung - the most common cause of death among those who initially survive an explosion.

Professor Anthony Bull, director of the new facility, said his team will primarily focus on reducing the serious injuries caused to the heels of troops travelling in vehicles damaged by roadside bombs.

He commented: "Previously, servicemen and women who were wounded from blasts would have died from their injuries, and now military protection, medical science and practice has improved greatly so that there is a greater prospect of survival.

"We now need to assess the effects of blasts on these survivors. We urgently need to know more, so that we can protect and treat people more effectively. This centre can make a real difference to the survival and quality of life of those serving in conflicts."

Laura Hopperton

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