Research Project: Blast Waves
The work in thermal safety described above has been complemented by a study into the neurological effects of blast waves. In collaboration with the Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences (USUHS), Center for Neuroscience and Regenerative Medicine, laboratory staff members have developed a HIFU-based shock-wave generator to produce blast conditions on a small scale. Preliminary experiments using HIFU to simulate blast conditions produced neurological damage in mice, but the number of pulses required was more than desired. More recently, a higher-pressure “amplitude modulated” blast simulator that operates at 1 MHz but has an envelope of roughly 1 millisecond was developed. The bioeffects of the amplitude-modulated blaster will be examined in early 2010. Further, a study was initiated to determine the effect of blast waves on the conduction of electrical signals in neurons. An earthworm was used as the first neural model. Degradation in the amplitude, and a decrease in conduction velocity, of the conducted impulse was observed as the blast intensity was increased. This work was undertaken to better understand and possibly control blast-induced brain injury.