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“Shocking” Results When WWI Helmets Were Compared to Modern Military Designs
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“Shocking” Results When WWI Helmets Were Compared to Modern Military Designs

(Click on picture for full view.) A French helmet from World Struggle I sits beneath a shock tube to check how nicely it protects the dummy beneath from a shock wave. The ridge down the middle of the helmet was designed for deflecting shrapnel, however could nicely have additionally helped deflect the shock wave, permitting the helmet to outperform even fashionable fight helmets. Credit score: Joost Op ‘t Eynde, Duke College

WWI helmets defend in opposition to shock waves simply in addition to fashionable design. French Adrian helmet suggests easy geometry could save brains from overhead blasts.

Biomedical engineers from Duke College have demonstrated that, regardless of important developments in safety from ballistics and blunt impacts, fashionable army helmets aren’t any higher at defending the mind from shock waves created by close by blasts than their World Struggle I counterparts. And one mannequin particularly, the French Adrian helmet, really carried out higher than fashionable designs in defending from overhead blasts.

The analysis may assist enhance the blast safety of future helmets by way of selecting totally different supplies, layering a number of supplies of various acoustic impedance, or altering their geometry.

A high-speed video of a French helmet from World Struggle I being bombarded by a shock wave designed to imitate a blast from German artillery shells a couple of meters away. Credit score: Joost Op ‘t Eynde, Duke College

The outcomes have been printed on-line on February 13, 2020, within the journal PLOS ONE.

“Whereas we discovered that every one helmets offered a considerable quantity of safety in opposition to blast, we have been stunned to discover that the 100-year-old helmets carried out simply in addition to fashionable ones,” mentioned Joost Op ‘t Eynde, a biomedical engineering Ph.D. pupil at Duke and first writer of the examine. “Certainly, some historic helmets carried out higher in some respects.”

Researchers have solely just lately begun to examine the mind injury a shock wave may cause by itself — and for good purpose. Helmets have been initially designed to defend from penetrating objects like bullets and shrapnel, and blast waves will kill by way of pulmonary trauma lengthy earlier than they trigger even minor mind injury.

With the arrival of physique armor, nevertheless, troopers’ lungs are rather more shielded from such blasts than they used to be. This has brought on the incidence of pulmonary trauma following a blast to drop far under that of mind or backbone accidents in fashionable army conflicts, regardless of the distinction in blast tolerance.

Whereas there have been research that counsel fashionable helmets present a level of safety from shock waves, no at present deployed helmet has been particularly designed for blast safety. And since troopers immediately experiencing shock waves whereas carrying physique armor aren’t all that totally different from troopers 100 years in the past experiencing shock waves whereas within the trenches, Op ‘t Eynde determined to see if these outdated designs supplied any classes to be discovered.

“Whereas we discovered that every one helmets offered a considerable quantity of safety in opposition to blast, we have been stunned to discover that the 100-year-old helmets carried out simply in addition to fashionable ones.” — Joost Op ‘t Eynde

“This examine is, to the very best of our information, the primary to assess the protecting capabilities of those historic fight helmets in opposition to blasts,” mentioned Op ‘t Eynde.

Working with Cameron “Dale” Bass, affiliate analysis professor of biomedical engineering at Duke, Op ‘t Eynde created a system to check the efficiency of World Struggle I helmets from the UK/United States (Brodie), France (Adrian), Germany (Stahlhelm) and a present United States fight variant (Superior Fight Helmet).

The researchers took turns putting totally different helmets on a dummy’s head outfitted with strain sensors at varied places. They then positioned the pinnacle instantly beneath a shock tube, which was pressurized with helium till a membrane wall burst, releasing the fuel in a shock wave. The helmets have been examined with shock waves of various energy, every corresponding to a special kind of German artillery shell exploding from a distance of 1 to 5 meters away.

The quantity of strain skilled on the crown of the pinnacle was then in contrast to mind damage threat charts created in earlier research. Whereas all helmets offered a five-to-tenfold discount in threat for average mind bleeding, the danger for somebody carrying a circa-1915 French “Adrian” helmet was lower than for any of the opposite helmets examined, together with the trendy superior fight helmet.

A Brodie helmet utilized by American and British forces in World Struggle I is hit with a shock wave to check how nicely it protects the dummy beneath from main blasts. Credit score: Joost Op ‘t Eynde, Duke College

“The result’s intriguing as a result of the French helmet was manufactured utilizing comparable supplies as its German and British counterparts, and even had a thinner wall,” mentioned Op ‘t Eynde. “The primary distinction is that the French helmet had a crest on prime of its crown. Whereas it was designed to deflect shrapnel, this function may additionally be deflecting shock waves.”

It additionally could be that, as a result of the strain sensor was mounted instantly beneath the crest, the crest offered an extra first layer for reflecting the shock wave. And the French helmet didn’t present the identical benefit in strain sensors at another location. For places such because the ears, efficiency appeared to be dictated by the width of the helmet’s brim and simply how a lot of the pinnacle it really coated.

As for the trendy helmet, Op ‘t Eynde theorizes that its layered construction could be vital in its efficiency. As a result of a shock wave is mirrored each time it encounters a brand new materials with a special acoustic impedance, the layered construction of the trendy helmet would possibly contribute to its blast safety.

However irrespective of which helmet was examined, the outcomes clearly indicated that helmets would possibly play an particularly vital position in defending in opposition to delicate blast-induced mind trauma. In accordance to the researchers, this discovering alone reveals the significance of continuous such a analysis to design helmets that may higher take up shock waves from close by overhead explosions.

“The distinction a easy crest or a wider brim could make in blast safety, reveals simply how vital this line of analysis might be,” mentioned Op ‘t Eynde, who initially got here to Duke on a scholarship from the Belgian American Academic Basis, which was established with funds from American aid efforts in Belgium throughout World Struggle I. “With the entire fashionable supplies and manufacturing capabilities we possess immediately, we must always have the opportunity to make enhancements in helmet design that protects from blast waves higher than helmets immediately or 100 years in the past.”

Reference: “Main Blast Wave Safety in Fight Helmet Design: a Historic Comparability between Current Day and World Struggle I” by Joost Op ‘t Eynde, Allen W. Yu, Christopher P. Eckersley and Cameron R. Bass, 13 February 2020, PLOS ONE.
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0228802

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