Blast Monitoring

Blast Monitoring

Monitoring Blast Exposures and Environmental Overpressure Events

Service Members, especially those in Special Operations Forces (SOF) and Explosive Ordinance Disposal Units (EOD), can experience low intensity, repeated subconcussive blast exposures (RSCBE) during training with and use of high explosives (e.g., breachers) and heavy weapons (e.g., high caliber rifles, shoulder-fired weapons, and artillery). 

The efforts conducted under the Monitoring Blast Exposures and Environmental Overpressure Events initiative strive to better understand how exposure to blast overpressure and impact/acceleration events affects Warfighter brain health. With permission granted by command leadership, some of these efforts are conducted at Unit Level Training, specialized Training Commands/Schoolhouses, and during unique in-the-field opportunities. Each of these efforts utilize monitoring devices to collect data on blast exposures and impact/acceleration events. Information about each of these efforts is detailed in the table below.

In the future, similar evaluations and assessments are planned for EOD personnel across all branches of the military, as they have unique and frequent exposures to blast and psychological stressors throughout their careers.

TitlePrincipal Investigator DescriptionObjective ParticipantsStatus 
Investigating the Neurologic Effects of Training Associated Blast (I-TAB
CDR Josh Duckworth, MD, MC, USN, Uniformed Services University 
  • Monitor, record, and analyze blast overpressure exposures
  • Identify clinical responses to RSCBE using neurocognitive, neuromotor, neurosensory, autonomic, and sensory assessments 
  • Identify physiologic responses to RSCBE using EEG, miRNA sequencing (e.g., to identify blast-specific changes in gene expression), and mass spectometry of biologic specimens  
  • Define features of RSCBE (e.g., number of exposures, intensity, and duration) using data obtained from monitoring devices
  • Examine the acute, subacute, and chronic (e.g., up to three years) clinical and physiological effects of RSCBE 
  • SOF heavy weapons training (trainees and instructors) 
Combat and Training Queryable Exposure/event Repository (CONQUER)
CDR Josh Duckworth, MD, MC, USN, Uniformed Services University 
  • Monitor and record blast overpressure exposures and impact/acceleration events 
  • Augment monitoring device data with training schedules, weapon records, and static mapping
  • Analyze and convert data into after-action reports for appropriate leadership and chain of command
  • Collect, aggregate, and disseminate environmental data regarding exposure to blast overpressure and impact/acceleration events during training 
  • Develop data pathways to provide meaningful documentation of blast exposure for entry into military service records 
  • SOF and EOD Training Commands, Schoolhouses, Unit Level Training, and joint exercises 
Investigating Training Associated Blast Pathology (INVICTA 2.0

Michael Roy, MD, MPH, COL (Ret) USA, Uniformed Services University 

Co-Principal Investigators 

David Keyser, PhD, LCDR (Ret), USN, Uniformed Services University 

Walter Carr, PhD, MAJ (Ret), USA, Walter Reed Army Institute of Research 

  • Conduct detailed baseline assessments, to include blood, urine, and hair-based biomarkers; assessments of cognition, hearing, and gait; and other functional measures prior to heavy weapons training 
  • Monitor and record blast overpressure exposures 
  • Correlate RSCBE with functional, audiologic, and cognitive outcomes at acute, subacute, and chronic time points 
  • Build upon findings from previous studies to better delineate the relationship between RSCBE and cognitive and physiologic responses 
  • Navy SEAL heavy weapons training (trainees and instructors) 
Starting 2020