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Military Helmet Design Contributes To Brain Damage

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 5 years ago | from the minor-oversights dept.

The Military 294

BuzzSkyline writes "Improvements in helmets have helped modern soldiers survive bullets and blasts that would have killed them in past wars. But increasing numbers of soldiers are suffering long lasting brain damage from explosions, partly as a result of what appears to be a flaw in helmet designs. Although the blast itself may not accelerate the brain inside a soldier's head enough to cause injury, shockwaves that make it through the space between a helmet and a soldier's head can cause the skull to flex, leading to ripples in the skull that can create damaging pressures in the brain. Simulations that relied on 'code originally designed to simulate how a detonated weapon rattles a building or tank' could lead to new helmets that reduce the traumatic brain injuries that many soldiers suffer as a result of improvised explosive devices and other moderate-sized blasts. The research is due to be published in Physical Review Letters, but a pre-print of the entire article is currently available on the Physics ArXiv."

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In other news... (5, Funny)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | more than 5 years ago | (#29265585)

Green military uniforms have also been observed to be a cause of brain damage, proportional to the number of stars on the uniform.

Re:In other news... (4, Funny)

Starcub (527362) | more than 5 years ago | (#29265691)

A truely scientific study would measure the amount of brain damage a person had prior to entering the military and figure out how to discount brain damage accrued as a result of non-combat related factors associated with being in the military.

Re:In other news... (4, Funny)

gnick (1211984) | more than 5 years ago | (#29265847)

I think that a scientific study for determining just how much military helmets actually contribute to brain damage when the soldier is exposed to an explosion would start by base-lining the brain conditions of 50 or so soldiers. Then, expose them all to the same explosion at the same stand-off orientation, half of them wearing helmets and half without. Then, re-test.

If the guys without their helmets on come out behind the guys wearing helmets, we should re-title this, "Military Helmet Design Fails to Completely Prevent Brain Damage".

Still, if they can model it up and do better, that sounds great.

Re:In other news... (5, Insightful)

evanbd (210358) | more than 4 years ago | (#29266245)

You know, observational studies are still scientific. There are plenty of hypotheses that can be tested without randomized controlled trials.

You're not going to claim that if astronomers really wanted to be scientific, they would start their research by gathering up a bunch of hydrogen and piling it together in empty space and then watching what happens, are you?

It's also entirely possible your test methodology would fail. The helmet could well be preventing acute injury resulting in death (shrapnel through the skull), but increasing the diffuse brain damage to other parts of the brain. However, the death due to acute injury would make the diffuse injury rate difficult to determine. Preventing death but causing brain damage is clearly an improvement, but it doesn't mean the helmet merely "failed to completely prevent" the brain damage, if the brain damage wouldn't have occurred without it.

Sometimes science is hard. It's still science, though, even if your "ideal" test methodology is impractical.

Re:In other news... (1)

gnick (1211984) | more than 4 years ago | (#29266437)

You're not going to claim that if astronomers really wanted to be scientific, they would start their research by gathering up a bunch of hydrogen and piling it together in empty space and then watching what happens, are you?

I'm not an astronomer and I understand your point. But if you can get that project funded, I want on the team. 'Cuz that would be about the most bad-ass experiment ever conducted. Move over LRC, we've got something better cookin'.

Re:In other news... (1)

gnick (1211984) | more than 4 years ago | (#29266447)

* LHC *
Oops.

Re:In other news... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29266521)

I think he's just complaining that "contributing" isn't really fair. It implies that brain damage would be less if no helmets were worn. This is obviously false, as the helmet prevents, not contributes to, brain damage. Now, maybe it doesn't effectively prevent all brain damage; instead the helment prevents some brain damage that would kill someone, but not certain types of non-lethal damage.

As such, it's more accurate to say, "military helmest to be improved to further prevent brain damage" or "military helmets do not prevent all brain damage".

Or, more simply: words have meaning. People should learn to use them.

Re:In other news... (1)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 4 years ago | (#29266297)

Blasphemy.
You get your sound reasoning out of here.

Come back when you've stocked up on lies, hyperbole, and FUD.

Re:In other news... (4, Interesting)

palegray.net (1195047) | more than 4 years ago | (#29266357)

Here's the hitch: Service personnel are screened rather thoroughly for any potentially disqualifying medically significant incidents prior to being enlisted/commissioned. Almost any prior head trauma for which medical attention was sought would be a disqualifying factor, unless medical review showed (with a very high degree of certainty) no lasting impairment. As a result, while a few might slip through the cracks here and there, you're not going to find a significant number of personnel entering the service with prior brain damage. You might be surprised what sort of prior medical issues can disqualify someone from military service.

Re:In other news... (5, Interesting)

Gilmoure (18428) | more than 4 years ago | (#29266691)

I was underweight for my height (5'10" / 115 lbs). After spending 6 months trying to gain weight, was able to get a waver and go in to basic. 4 years later, had managed to gain 12 lbs. Out on the flight line, they called me Stickman. I was able to get in through small access holes (KC-135's) and fix stuff that would have taken an extra hour of work to remove larger pieces of skin. Got a decent amount of free booze for helping speed up repairs.

Re:In other news... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29265697)

What my brigadier general (ret.) uncle said - paraphrasing: It takes talent and intelligence to get to Colonel, after that it's politics.

Re:In other news... (1)

csartanis (863147) | more than 4 years ago | (#29266331)

The title of this article is misleading. Without these helmets the soldiers would likely be dead but instead they have brain damage caused by survived explosions, not the helmet.

Re:In other news... (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 4 years ago | (#29266693)

That's uncertain, the helmet protects against projectiles but shockwaves are another thing entirely. If the helmet wasn't hit by a projectile it probably didn't prevent a death either.

The Shadow were right... (3, Insightful)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | more than 5 years ago | (#29265589)

War really does lead to some of our race's biggest advances.

Although they did fail to consider the motivating potential of porn as well. Stupid Shadows...

Re:The Shadow were right... (0, Offtopic)

jollyreaper (513215) | more than 5 years ago | (#29265639)

War really does lead to some of our race's biggest advances.

Ants don't build a better anthill after you kick it over, they just build the same old design as before. Little boys with malicious hearts enjoy kicking the anthills over because they like making the little fuckers run about like mad.

Re:The Shadow were right... (2, Interesting)

gnick (1211984) | more than 5 years ago | (#29266001)

War really does lead to some of our race's biggest advances.

Ants don't build a better anthill after you kick it over, they just build the same old design as before.

Wrong race. Our race tends to come up with new and innovative ways of killing each other so that we can avoid being killed. And, if you want to stick to structures, Munich is a really interesting place to visit. They pretty much did rebuild the same human ant-hills after they got bombed to the ground. My understanding is that they built it about as close to the original lay-out as practical. But, even in that single very unusual example, they at least had the sense to completely revamp the infrastructure when they were putting it back together.

If you're saying something too clever for me and it went over my head, I apologize for the ramble.

Re:The Shadow were right... (1)

Stenchwarrior (1335051) | more than 5 years ago | (#29265665)

That's true, although porn leads to head-flexing as well.

Re:The Shadow were right... (3, Funny)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 5 years ago | (#29265713)

That's true, although porn leads to head-flexing as well.

And dain bramage!

Scary (-1, Troll)

clang_jangle (975789) | more than 5 years ago | (#29265603)

That is really scary, especially in light of the fact that military personnel are essential government property and have no rights.

Re:Scary (2, Insightful)

OnomatopoeiaSound (1276560) | more than 5 years ago | (#29265641)

Is it possible to design the helmets in such a way that prevents this? If not, it might be a necessary evil. I would rather run the risk of TBI than have my head shot off or something, honestly. It might just be a sad side effect of our need to have soldiers.

Re:Scary (1)

clang_jangle (975789) | more than 5 years ago | (#29265673)

Certainly it's possible, they just need better shock absorption. The current design transmits too much of the shock to the skull.

Re:Scary (5, Insightful)

ArbitraryDescriptor (1257752) | more than 5 years ago | (#29265929)

Certainly it's possible, they just need better shock absorption. The current design transmits too much of the shock to the skull.

This problem is actually caused by the helmet's method of not transmitting shock to the skull. FTA:

To protect soldiers from bullets and shrapnel, modern helmet design maintains a 1.3-cm gap between helmet and head; in the simulation, the blast wave washed into the helmet through this gap. "The helmet acts as a windscoop, so the pressure between the skull and helmet is larger than the blast wave by itself," King said. While the ACH's pads mostly prevented this underwash, they also passed on forces to the skull.

So the trick is keeping the overpressure out of the helmet, while keeping it separated from the skull. Perhaps a dual helmet design; Rigid outer shell to absorb and deflect impact, and a second separate inner covering to resist overpressure. Either that, or in place of ACH pads, some type of system relying on fluid dynamics to redirects force forward, out the face of the helmet, rather than inward toward the skull.

Re:Scary (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29266075)

All of which is fancy way of saying "the current design transmits too much shock to the skull" Duh!

*sigh* (2, Informative)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 5 years ago | (#29265943)

RTFA.

David Moore, a vascular neurologist and the deputy director of research at the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center, headquartered in Washington, D.C., said that the skull flexure mechanism proposed by the physicists is just one hypothesis among several competing concepts of blast waves and injury. "Like all these hypotheses theres yet work to be done in terms of validation," he said. "There are too many unknown variables from the constitutive properties of brain and skull at high strain rates along with other associated blast phenomena."

The team considered the performance of Kevlar helmets with two kinds of cushioning systems: a nylon web system that was retired in 2003, and the foam pads of the Advanced Combat Helmet, which is standard-issue for today's soldiers. The results were unsettling.

To protect soldiers from bullets and shrapnel, modern helmet design maintains a 1.3-cm gap between helmet and head; in the simulation, the blast wave washed into the helmet through this gap. "The helmet acts as a windscoop, so the pressure between the skull and helmet is larger than the blast wave by itself," King said. While the ACH's pads mostly prevented this underwash, they also passed on forces to the skull.

King suggested that the pads' stiffness could be optimized to "take the best of both worlds; it doesn't allow the blast in there, and it doesn't transfer [forces] from the helmet to the head." He stressed that when making changes to the helmet, preserving its ability to reduce impacts and fend off bullets was paramount. "You'd have to be careful to make sure it doesn't interfere with what the helmet does very well, which is stopping fragments and bullets," he said. "The whole idea why there was a big gap between skull and helmet in the first place, is it makes it more likely for the soldier to survive if a bullet hits the helmet."

Re:Scary (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29266453)

Mods on crack again -- how is expressing concern for military people a "troll"?

That's a bit harsh... (5, Insightful)

clone53421 (1310749) | more than 5 years ago | (#29265659)

Helmets which "have helped modern soldiers survive bullets and blasts that would have killed them in past wars" are being accused of causing brain damage.

I guess boxing gloves cause brain damage, too? Or maybe it's boxing that causes brain damage, and the gloves reduce the risk...

Now, if they can make better helmets that reduce the risk of brain damage even further, props to them. That doesn't mean the current generation of helmets are "causing" brain damage.

Re:That's a bit harsh... (4, Insightful)

szo (7842) | more than 5 years ago | (#29265757)

It's 'causing' the brain damage in a way that it prevents the solder from dying and thus hiding the symptoms of the brain damage :)

Re:That's a bit harsh... (4, Interesting)

nschubach (922175) | more than 5 years ago | (#29265969)

I wonder if this may be the cause of "Gulf War Syndrome" we heard a lot about a few years back...

Re:That's a bit harsh... (5, Funny)

gnick (1211984) | more than 4 years ago | (#29266195)

Maybe our helmets need a warning label: War may be hazardous to your health and has been known to cause such side effects as brain damage, PTSD, maiming, and death in many people during and after exposure.

Re:That's a bit harsh... (4, Informative)

megamerican (1073936) | more than 4 years ago | (#29266325)

I wonder if this may be the cause of "Gulf War Syndrome" we heard a lot about a few years back...

How would a shock to the head cause auto-immune diseases, which is what Gulf War Syndrome is?

http://www.autoimmune.com/GWSGen.html [autoimmune.com]

"Gulf War Syndrome, or GWS, is the term which has been applied to the multi-symptom rheumatic disorder experienced by many veterans of the 1990-1991 Persian Gulf war. A similar disorder appeared in 1990-1991-era personnel who were never deployed to the Persian Gulf theater of operations and also in other military personnel, including participants in the Anthrax Vaccine Immunization Program, or AVIP, which was inaugurated in 1997. No data has ever suggested that the disorder experienced by the deployed 1990-1991 soldiers is different from the disorder experienced by the other groups of patients, but the other cases have not been considered to be cases of GWS.

Squalene was found by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in five lots of the AVIP anthrax vaccine. The discovery of serum anti-squalene antibodies and the development of a test to detect these antibodies has made it possible to see that links appear to exist between the contaminated AVIP vaccine lots, the illness experienced by post-1997 vaccine recipients, the illness experienced by non-deployed 1990-1991-era patients, and the illness in deployed 1990-1991-era patients that has been referred to as GWS."

Re:That's a bit harsh... (4, Insightful)

PyroMosh (287149) | more than 4 years ago | (#29266507)

Unlikely. I have no idea if it's a real disease or not, or a popular misdiagnosis for a lot of other unrelated things. However, a great number of Gulf War Syndrome cases are with personnel who were not exposed to combat. Airmen on airbases, logistics folks, troops who never saw any real resistance in action, etc., etc.

In other words, not a lot of soldiers were exposed to explosions at close range, and a great many more folks than that tiny cross section reported GWS.

If it's real, it would have to be caused by something either pathogenic (unlikely, given that it seems the disease was not brought back home and spread to others) or environmental.

Environmental causes seem more likely because of the sheer number of possible candidates.

  1. Burning oil wells, and the chemical muck that produced
  2. The first wide scale use of depleted uranium munitions
  3. Exposure to chemical weapons. Although chemical erapons were not deployed by Iraq during the war, some troops were exposed incidentally when storage facilities were destroyed.
  4. Chemical agents and vaccines used to protect against chemical and biological weapons

All of these are suspect. There are studies saying yes, and no to most, if not all of these possible sources. Compound that with the real probability, that even if it's real, a great number of cases are probably folks who are scared and have some other disorder, who have convinced themselves otherwise, on top of the unscrupulous folks who are trying to turn this into a personal payday... we may never know if it's real, let alone what causes it if it is.

Re:That's a bit harsh... (4, Informative)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 5 years ago | (#29265835)

Actually, the gloves DO cause brain damage. It's nearly impossible to knock someone our bare handed with a blow to the temple, but easy as hell with gloves. The glove protects the hands, not the face. Notice that in college or olympic boxing they wear protective gear on their heads?

Re:That's a bit harsh... (3, Interesting)

iamhigh (1252742) | more than 5 years ago | (#29266095)

It's nearly impossible to knock someone our bare handed with a blow to the temple

While perhaps this is true for the temple (and only the temple), I have seen way to many UFC fights to agree with the general idea of this statement. Catch the jaw just right with a solid blow and just about anyone will go down.

The gloves lessen the blow, but they also make it possible to sustain a fight for 10 rounds... that is where the damage occurs. Getting knocked out isn't that big of a deal, it's the repeated blows that mess you up.

Re:That's a bit harsh... (3, Insightful)

gnick (1211984) | more than 4 years ago | (#29266247)

The gloves lessen the blow, but they also make it possible to sustain a fight for 10 rounds... that is where the damage occurs. Getting knocked out isn't that big of a deal, it's the repeated blows that mess you up.

You'd be surprised how many perfectly intelligent people fail to understand that. I watch a lot of UFC/MMA, but have never liked boxing. People who know I'm into UFC but don't really grasp the sport get confused when I tell them that I don't like boxing because it's too brutal. Our brains just weren't meant to be pummeled like that - Especially for those kind of durations. You often see UFC fighters get knocked loopy and wander off exhausted and beaten, but rarely do you see one truly punch-drunk.

Re:That's a bit harsh... (4, Funny)

jake.tiger (1038046) | more than 4 years ago | (#29266591)

Actually, the gloves DO cause brain damage. It's nearly impossible to knock someone our bare handed with a blow to the temple, but easy as hell with gloves. The glove protects the hands, not the face. Notice that in college or olympic boxing they wear protective gear on their heads?

Well, I have professional Muay Thai experience and I'd agree with the gloves causing brain damage. However, as far as the general consensus goes, thats because of the gloves flexing and causing vibrations in your head. As well as that you can get hit a lot in the head, I read that it's better to get a hard blow and get knocked out than lots of small ones. Interestingly, I know a lot of sparring partners who dont like sparring in head-gear because they often feel more dizzy afterwards than without. They attribute this to the gear giving even more padding for the vibrations. When it comes to it being nearly impossible to knock someone out bare-handed I gotta disagree. It's got more to do with where you hit, and how prepared the opponent is. As they say, it's the one you dont see that'll knock you out. Obviously there are several other factors as well. In MMA they wear minimal protection on the hands and people get knocked out just fine.

Re:That's a bit harsh... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29265851)

Nowhere in the article, summary, or headline are helmets stated as the cause of brain damage. All state that the helmet design contributes to the brain damage and the article and summary are both very clear on how the brain actually gets damaged. Work on your reading comprehension.

Re:That's a bit harsh... (1)

clone53421 (1310749) | more than 5 years ago | (#29265981)

Contribute - Verb

1. To give something, that is or becomes part of a larger whole.

So... which part of the brain damage was caused by the explosion, and which was caused by the helmet?

Re:That's a bit harsh... (1)

SterlingSylver (1122973) | more than 5 years ago | (#29265953)

Also just in:

Air Bags cause numerous broken arms every year
Parachutes cause whiplash
Seatbelts chafe

Re:That's a bit harsh... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29265999)

Agreed, it's a sickening way to grab attention. That said, how much longer would it take to get the research noticed, applied, and replacements funded and issued without this misleading hype? Given my own experience with the mil I'd guess the report would functionally ignored without it. However /. has a lot of currently serving soldiers -- have things changed? Is this sort of hype unnecessary now?

Re:That's a bit harsh... (2, Insightful)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | more than 4 years ago | (#29266157)

I guess boxing gloves cause brain damage, too? Or maybe it's boxing that causes brain damage, and the gloves reduce the risk...

Boxing gloves cause more damage than they prevent.

Boxing gloves are meant to protect a boxer's hands, not his opponent's head. They do that so well that a modern boxer can keep dishing out hurt long after an early 19th century bare-knuckles boxer would have had both hands incapacitated by his own blows.

Which allows the boxer to do more damage to his opponent, thus increasing the risk of severe damage to both parties in a fight.

Re:That's a bit harsh... (4, Informative)

Itninja (937614) | more than 4 years ago | (#29266163)

From TFA: "The helmet acts as a windscoop, so the pressure between the skull and helmet is larger than the blast wave by itself,.."

With a direct gunshot to the head the head saves their lives, but with indirect shockwaves (i.e. an IED going off a few meters away) the helmets have been shown to increase the likelihood of a TBI.

Re:That's a bit harsh... (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 4 years ago | (#29266405)

Gloves do exactly that. You get hit far more often and far harder by someone wearing gloves since their hand doesn't shatter quite so fast.

Of course giving the fighter 10 seconds to recuperate instead of letting the other guy hit him a few more times and call it over likely causes more...

From a helmet perspective it's possible a helmet could increase the amount of brain damage compared with no helmet. For the case of a nearby explosion in which no shrapnel actually hits the head/helmet. I'm not saying that is the case here (I haven't read the details), but it's feasible. Air bags increase the injury severity in some crashes over no airbags too.

Of course you'd be an idiot to not wear a helmet (or to turn off the airbag) since the benefit of not dieing in a lot of cases far outweighs some injury increase in some specific case. But if you can tweak the design to lower the risk while maintaining the "stop the impact from killing me" feature that would be nice.

Re:That's a bit harsh... (1)

antirelic (1030688) | more than 4 years ago | (#29266457)

I think the article just uses bad semantics. Of course the helmet isnt actually causing brain damage. The critique is in the design not preventing something that could be fixed by filling the space between the Kevlar and the skull.

The big problem is with people who have no experience with the military outside of hollywood productions. See, those of us who have military experience have learned early on that all of our equipment is made by the lowest bidder. In fact, most of the equipment that soldiers use is rather old, with better alternatives found in the free market. I dont have to go over this again, but many soldiers opt to purchase their own body armor and ancillary equipment.

Kevlars suck. I've always hated them, but they were better than the alternative, but not great. I'm sure there are plenty of free market products out there that are far superior. If I'd ever got sucked back in the military, I'm buying my own gear (outside the uniforms).

Re:That's a bit harsh... (2, Insightful)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 4 years ago | (#29266617)

Helmets which "have helped modern soldiers survive bullets and blasts that would have killed them in past wars" are being accused of causing brain damage.

Yes. Because they do. The net effect on survivability may be positive, but they still appear to cause specific kinds of brain injuries.

Observing that this is the case and understanding it is the first step to designing helmets that have the same beneficial features as current helemts without while eliminating or mitigating the injury-causing features, thus further improving the net benefit.

I guess boxing gloves cause brain damage, too?

Maybe they do, maybe they don't, but that's irrelevant to the issue here.

Now, if they can make better helmets that reduce the risk of brain damage even further, props to them. That doesn't mean the current generation of helmets are "causing" brain damage.

No, what means that the current generation of helmets is causing brain damage is the specific evidence which shows that, in fact, designs like those currently used cause injuries that would not occur without the helmet. From TFS (emphasis added): "Although the blast itself may not accelerate the brain inside a soldier's head enough to cause injury, shockwaves that make it through the space between a helmet and a soldier's head can cause the skull to flex, leading to ripples in the skull that can create damaging pressures in the brain."

TFA itself specifically notes how both the web-style suspension of the old PASGT helmets and the foam suspension of the newer ACH helmets contribute to brain injury by different mechanisms (PASGT by allowing the blast wave to "underwash" the helmet--which seems to be what TFS is referring--ACH, while avoiding that, by tightly coupling deformations of the helmet to the head.)

Flaw (3, Interesting)

Phoenixlol (1549649) | more than 5 years ago | (#29265687)

This is considered a flaw in design? I was unaware that these helmets were designed to protect against shockwaves as oppoesed to simply projectiles. "Military Helmet Design Contributes To Brain Damage" makes it sound like the helmet itself is inflicting brain damage, no?

Misleading Title? (2, Insightful)

quatin (1589389) | more than 5 years ago | (#29265725)

I'm not following the title. An explosion near the head causes brain damage. Wearing a helmet mitigates the effects of the explosion. A military helmet is not maximally effective in mitigating the effects. How did we arrive at a military helmet causes brain damage?

Re:Misleading Title? (1, Informative)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 5 years ago | (#29265893)

It's explained in TFA.

Re:Misleading Title? (3, Interesting)

Avalain (1321959) | more than 5 years ago | (#29265923)

The part that they perhaps should have mentioned is that in the TFA they compared the new helmets with the helmets they stopped using in 2003. They found that there is a gap in the new helmet which makes it handle bullets better than the old one, but it seems to handle explosions worse.

Basically, it's not that the helmet is causing brain damage. It's that the helmet is not protected the soldier from brain damage as well as the older helmet did.

Re:Misleading Title? (1)

clone53421 (1310749) | more than 4 years ago | (#29266233)

See, it's crucial details like this that I shouldn't have to RTFA to find out. This is pivotal to the whole article and should be in the summary.

Re:Misleading Title? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29265947)

I think that the helmet may focus and intensify certain shockwaves that cause ripples along the brain. If the head were exposed to the shockwave (no flak) without a helmet, the ripples would not have been so severe.

Re:Misleading Title? (2, Insightful)

Kamokazi (1080091) | more than 5 years ago | (#29265991)

Logic. Specifically, journalistic logic. An accurate title would be boring, so logically you create a title that is more interesting and is also based on words found in the article. Duh.

War may be dangerous (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29265735)

You have been warned.

Stop calling it IED (1, Insightful)

Chicken_Kickers (1062164) | more than 5 years ago | (#29265753)

Really. Please stop. There was a common word for it. It's called a bomb. If there is some sort of hidden triggering mechanism present, then it is a booby-trap. If the payload is large enough, then it is a landmine. I do believe that the US military started to call it IED for Orwellian-like doublespeak reasons.

Re:Stop calling it IED (1)

sunking2 (521698) | more than 5 years ago | (#29265887)

It's called an IED because having your $100k humvee blown up by some stolen explosives with nuts and bolts duct taped to it doesn't sound very good. The cause is somehow more justified if the enemy is seen to be a bit more worthy of the expenditure.

Re:Stop calling it IED (1)

kevinNCSU (1531307) | more than 5 years ago | (#29266121)

Actually the whole point of the name is to emphasize just that "IMPROVISED Explosive Device" versus an expensive landmine or bomb made on a production line. It's just quicker to say.

Re:Stop calling it IED (4, Informative)

russotto (537200) | more than 5 years ago | (#29265901)

IED = improvised explosive device. As opposed to an explosive device made on a production line somewhere. The military loves acronyms even more than the rest of government, so I doubt there's any Orwellian reason for the name.

Re:Stop calling it IED (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29266081)

IED = improvised explosive device. As opposed to an explosive device made on a production line somewhere.

So what is it when it's made from artillery shells?

Re:Stop calling it IED (4, Insightful)

russotto (537200) | more than 4 years ago | (#29266351)

So what is it when it's made from artillery shells?

I'll bet there's an army manual somewhere which says so. Probably if the artillery shells are used as artillery shells, they're not considered IEDs, but if they're rigged as a claymore, they are. Sort of like if you somehow hooked a billiard ball to your mouse to make a trackball, you'd have an IPD -- improvised pointing device.

Re:Stop calling it IED (1)

AndersOSU (873247) | more than 4 years ago | (#29266419)

well it depends, is it shot from an artillery piece?

If so then it's called artillery fire, otherwise, it's an IED.

Re:Stop calling it IED (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29266393)

Most IEDs and VBIEDs are comprised from production line munitions including anti-tank mines and cars loaded with artillery shells. The improvised part generally stems from the trigger mechanism, mobile phones, remote locking systems.

Re:Stop calling it IED (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 5 years ago | (#29265985)

At least "IED" isn't nearly as bad(and is actually vaguely descriptive, if in fact the device isn't purpose built) as "homicide bomber". Remember the (mercifully brief) period where using that one became a sign of ideological conformity?

Re:Stop calling it IED (1)

AndersOSU (873247) | more than 4 years ago | (#29266395)

thankfully, no I don't, but I did go to wikipedia to look it up...

I found this nugget, "Another attempted replacement is genocide bombing. The term was coined in 2002 by Canadian member of parliament Irwin Cotler, in an effort to replace the term homicide bomber as a substitute for "suicide bomber."[95] The intention was to focus attention on the alleged intention of genocide by militant Palestinians in their calls to "Wipe Israel off the map"

I then snorted fairly loudly.

Re:Stop calling it IED (0, Flamebait)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 5 years ago | (#29265993)

It's not called a "bomb" because 1) there are a lot of different kinds of bobs and 2) the military doesn't speak te same language as civilians. It's not a "phillips screwdriver," for instance, it's a "crosshath".

An IED is an "improvised explosive device", i.e. home made, as opposed to a military issue land mine, grenade, or other professionally manufactured ordinance.

Re:Stop calling it IED (4, Insightful)

Tx (96709) | more than 5 years ago | (#29266047)

Actually, while there is plenty of military doublespeak that could be dispensed with, "IED" I am perfectly happy with. "Improvised" is a worthwhile adjective to use in this context, because the improvised devices do typically have different characteristics from the closest equivalent professionally made devices, so you want to use that or some other adjective (you could use "home made" if you like, but that sounds like you're talking about pie, not weaponry). And since the term covers a range of blast, shrapnel, and incendiary devices, "explosive device" pretty much covers it. For once, it's actually a concise and descriptive acronym.

Re:Stop calling it IED (3, Funny)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 4 years ago | (#29266173)

(you could use "home made" if you like, but that sounds like you're talking about pie, not weaponry).

If you're talking about a pie made by me, then there's not a whole lot of difference.

Someday I really should release my autobiographical NIN-parody, Terrible Pie.

Re:Stop calling it IED (1)

Trepidity (597) | more than 4 years ago | (#29266605)

Aren't devices improvised in this manner a pretty standard part of warfare, though? Digging tunnels and filling them with miscellaneous explosives, which you then try to detonate under (or at least near) your enemy, has been done for hundreds of years, and nobody calls e.g. Messines [wikipedia.org] an IED attack.

Re:Stop calling it IED (5, Informative)

Firethorn (177587) | more than 4 years ago | (#29266165)

Actually, there's some very good reasons for calling them IEDs. IED stands for Improvised Explosive Device, of course. What this means is that the explosive device in question is not standard. This matters when it comes to disarming/making them safe.

If a EOD guy comes across an unexploded MK82, he knows precisely how to disarm it - it's standardized. Same deal with most land mines*, claymore devices, unmodified artillery shells**, and the rest of the world's standard military munitions. We even have books on foreign country's stuff, including Russian and old USSR weapons.

Each IED, even if from the same maker, is far more unique, presenting unique challanges when it comes to disarming them.

Oh, and being designated as a land mine doesn't mean a 'large enough' payload, it means it's buried in the ground with an appropriate sensor/detonator to explode when something's over it. Most are pressure sensitive, some anti-vehicle types have magnetic detonators.

Bombs are generally assumed to be dropped out of planes, but then I'm Air Force.

*Though booby-trapping can be an issue with these.
**Many are converted into IEDs via non-conventional detonation systems in Iraq/Afghanistan.

Re:Stop calling it IED (0, Troll)

belloc1 (1118477) | more than 4 years ago | (#29266279)

If they called them booby-traps the military wouldn't try to avoid them.

This Just In: +1, Informative (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29265783)

War contributes to brain damage. Worset, warmongers ( ie. President-VICE Richard B. Cheney) contribute to brain damage.

Yours In Samara,
K. Trout

Great Headline. (5, Interesting)

Caue (909322) | more than 5 years ago | (#29265787)

Maybe it should have been "explosions cause brain damage and the helmet is not very efficient against those" or "don't wear a military helmet and use TNT"

I tought helmets were designed to protect from debri and flying objects caused by explosions, not the shockwave from 2 pounds of C-4 lying around.

Re:Great Headline. (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 4 years ago | (#29266671)

Maybe it should have been "explosions cause brain damage and the helmet is not very efficient against those" or "don't wear a military helmet and use TNT"

Either of those would have been less on point, since TFA summarizes research which finds specific mechanisms by which two different military helmet designs (both the one currently in use and its immediate predecessor) directly contribute to brain injuries.

Actually not. (2, Insightful)

ljaszcza (741803) | more than 5 years ago | (#29265793)

What a headline. Actually, overall, I would think that helmets reduce injury and death. Both in combat and civilian arenas. Just because an inefficiency in military helmet design exists is no reason to say that "Helmet Design Contributes to Brain Damage". As compared to what? Taking shrapnel or a bullet without a helmet? Now the article does suggest that the helmet may increase skull deformation from pressure waves secondary to the helmet design. But the authors admit that these are preliminary results and may or may not relate to the final outcome; TBI. Still, if this line of research pans out, it could lead to some real improvement in head protection. Civilian and military. I just hate misleading, sensational headlines...

Re:Actually not. (2, Insightful)

EmagGeek (574360) | more than 5 years ago | (#29265903)

That's so true.. it's like blaming seatbelts for shoulder injuries sustained during collisions... of course, the alternative is MUCH worse...

Need some of that orange goo (4, Interesting)

Absolut187 (816431) | more than 5 years ago | (#29265811)

from the earlier story...

Stick it in the lining.

Brain damage (2, Insightful)

mcfatboy93 (1363705) | more than 5 years ago | (#29265857)

It causes less damage if you use them, even if some scientist found a small flaw in their design. I think a bullet to the head would cause more problems then you brain taking a hit because your helmet stopped the bullet.

I would also be more worried about the person shooting at you.

Ventilation holes? (1)

oldhack (1037484) | more than 5 years ago | (#29265875)

I wonder if the helmet is designed with numerous ventilation holes it can diffuse the shock wave?

Re:Ventilation holes? (1)

jklovanc (1603149) | more than 5 years ago | (#29265997)

Shock wave out, bullets in; works for me. /sarcasm

Re:Ventilation holes? (1)

oldhack (1037484) | more than 5 years ago | (#29266127)

That's why you shouldn't label the holes with "bullet goes here".

Seriously, though, would ventilation holes diffuse shock wave? If so, can its size, number, and distribution be modulated to prevent shock wave while still providing impact protection?

Re:Ventilation holes? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29266065)

I believe those are called speed holes.

Make the helmets more shock resistant (3, Interesting)

sacremon (244448) | more than 5 years ago | (#29265895)

There was just an article earlier today (Orange Goo [slashdot.org] ) about a material that helps absorb shock, so why not line the inside of the helmets with the stuff?

Re:Make the helmets more shock resistant (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29266443)

The helmets would stiffen up and transfer all the energy to the skull?

Drainbramage? (1)

drainbramage (588291) | more than 5 years ago | (#29266005)

Did I hear somebody calling my name?

New T-shirt slogan (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29266011)

"I survived an Improvised Explosive Device and all I got was this lousy drain bamage"

Title and summary are off (1)

gurps_npc (621217) | more than 5 years ago | (#29266023)

There is no flaw in the helmet. What the article describes is simple - injuries that would normally kill people are now survivable due to superior helmets. But that leaves them alive with brain damage instead of dead.

Re:Title and summary are off (1)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 4 years ago | (#29266269)

No. The flaw in the helmet is described as a gap between the helmet and the head. That IS a flaw. If an explosion goes off overhead, assuming no debris or shrapnel or whatever is going to hit the soldier, he'll survive it anyways. Now if he's wearing a helmet, that shockwave will push the helmet (similar to a baseball bat hitting a baseball) and that gap will give it momentum to physically hit the head.

Sounds pretty flawed to me.

Promotion (-1, Offtopic)

gmuslera (3436) | more than 5 years ago | (#29266057)

Be soldier for several years and you will be promoted to military intelligence operations.

Adjective context check.... (1)

Itninja (937614) | more than 5 years ago | (#29266087)

From TFA: "Because the effects TBI are so long-lasting and complex, the cost to the government is enormous."

I know it costs a lot to train, feed, and deploy a soldier. And when said solider is hit with a TBI it actaully costs more than if they had actually been killed outright. But even with that I think the 'cost to government' is not even on the radar when compared with the trillion+ bailout. Not to sound cold (and I have family deployed right now), but these soldiers are just meat to the government. Now if they were 'too big to fail' then maybe we could take case of these folks....

Re:Adjective context check.... (1)

MaWeiTao (908546) | more than 4 years ago | (#29266423)

Apparently the government does care about what happens to these soldiers, otherwise we wouldn't be discussing these findings.

Similar to Motorcycle Helmets? (3, Interesting)

R2.0 (532027) | more than 5 years ago | (#29266091)

I remember reading a similar article about motorcycle helmets, which said that the incident of brain trauma was higher in helmeted riders versus helmetless. Same reason - the rigid helmet transmitted shockwave straight through the skull to the brain, where the facial structure absorbed a lot of the shock in unhelmeted riders.

So the choice seemed to be pretty and brain damaged, or ugly and smart.

I think they've redesigned the helmets since then.

Re:Similar to Motorcycle Helmets? (2, Informative)

kashani (2011) | more than 4 years ago | (#29266399)

This is completely false. Idiot people who don't want to have to wear a helmet continue to bring that nonsense up. Think about it. How can a helmet which spreads an impact out over a large space *and* absorbs impact via padding be worse than no helmet at all.

Re:Similar to Motorcycle Helmets? (2, Interesting)

tilandal (1004811) | more than 4 years ago | (#29266529)

Easy, just don't count the people who die from trauma to the head while riding without a helmet.

Re:Similar to Motorcycle Helmets? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29266561)

Actually, one skydiver survived because she didnt wear a helmet, the shattering of her face saved her life. The helmet would have caused the brain to be smashed. I cant remember the name of the accident.

Im

Re:Similar to Motorcycle Helmets? (1)

R2.0 (532027) | more than 4 years ago | (#29266653)

A) we're talking decades ago - pre DOT and SNELL.

B) I'm not a biker, and don't read biker centric articles - this was a mainstream piece

C) I think bikers who don't wear helmets are fools, although they have a right to be.

D) The same argument can be made of airbags, yet they still killed some people who would not otherwise have dies if they were wearing just a seatbelt.

Re:Similar to Motorcycle Helmets? (3, Informative)

JerkBoB (7130) | more than 4 years ago | (#29266545)

So the choice seemed to be pretty and brain damaged, or ugly and smart.

I think they've redesigned the helmets since then.

I think the choice was more like "pretty, possibly brain-damaged, but ALIVE" and "face ground off by asphalt and DEAD".

I have personally witnessed two motorcycle accidents... In the first one, the guy dumped his bike while making a tight turn at a rain-slicked intersection. His (helmeted) head hit the pavement hard. Probably wouldn't have killed him, but he would definitely not have been getting up to ride after that without a helmet. Second one, the poor bastard hit a deer at about 70mph. Cut the thing right in two, and he slid on the highway for a while. I stopped to help him, and I saw up-close how badly chewed-up his helmet was. Lucky for him he wasn't one of those assholes who rides wearing nothing but shorts and a t-shirt. His gloved hands were a bit bloody, his knee was probably broken, and his helmet had been worn down in one spot so far that I could see the internal layers. But he was alive.

I know you were talking about older bike helmet designs, but I hate to see anything that could give no-helmet idiots more fuel for rationalizing their stupidity and selfishness.

Brilliant Headline (1)

MobyDisk (75490) | more than 5 years ago | (#29266129)

Military helmets indeed cause brain damage: If the solider was not wearing a helmet they would be dead -- and thus, they would have no brain damage.

Yes - it IS flawed (3, Interesting)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 4 years ago | (#29266211)

shockwaves that make it through the space between a helmet and a soldier's head

Either Jarhead isn't wearing his helmet properly or there IS a major flaw in the design. This kind of thing is mentioned everywhere.

Have you ever worn a bike helmet that was 3 sizes too large? How effective was it? Heres an experiment, place a ball on the ground and smack it with your hand. Notice how much it bounces, moves, etc etc. Now take that ball and hold it 2 feet off the ground. Now hit it, and see how much more it bounces.

If the helmet has an inch of gap, its no surprise that helmets are hitting troops with more effective damage then if they were wearing nothing at all.

I don't know about you. (3, Insightful)

blakedev (1397081) | more than 4 years ago | (#29266241)

But I'm in the military, and I'd rather brain damage than brain splattage.

Re:I don't know about you. (1)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 4 years ago | (#29266381)

Congratulations, I guess.
You already brain damage.

The Previous Helmet (1)

Syncerus (213609) | more than 4 years ago | (#29266377)

Was a simple metal hat with a (fiberglass?) liner. The current helmet provides far more protection than the previous model. Keep that in mind in the context of this criticism.

Also, as a minor quibble point, the airborne modification of the helmet has additional padding on the interior which may affect the dynamic of the air gap between outer shell and liner. My assumption is that the study was performed on the standard helmet configuration, but it's worth observing that there are non-standard configurations in wide spread use.

Evolution of head protection (1)

isa-kuruption (317695) | more than 4 years ago | (#29266455)

It's kind of interesting to see a story like this. Helmets were once made out of copper or leather or other soft materials leading to extremely strong steel helmets and now composite (almost brittle) helmets that absorb impact. Why? Because in the previous designs, they were found faulty, and someone ingeniously improved upon the old design.

Can we expect helmets to protect against everything? Let's say that helmets did protect well against the shockwaves of blasts, then the article author would be complaining that helmets do not protect soldiers from a chance encounter with another planet or some other random scenario.

Obviously there are still improvements to be made, but to make a silly comment that helmets cause brain damage is misleading. As the threat changes and issues are discovered, new equipment will be designed to combat those new conditions. After all is said and done, the helmets used today are far better than they were even a single generation ago.

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