Due to the U.S.’s continued military presence in Iraq, we have seen a lot of attention paid to the increasing numbers of soldiers returning with head injuries from bomb blasts. These injuries are often hard to detect and too many times go unreported.
Luckily, both for the soldiers and for civilians who have sustained brain injuries, there has been a correlating increase in research into preventing and curing traumatic brain injuries (TBI).
The latest study that has caught our attention is focused on the use of crystals to detect and report a TBI. Shu Yang, one of the researchers who developed the device, says that the amount of damage sustained from an impact such as a soldier would get from an explosion, can be registered by crystals.
The crystal structure changes depending on the level of shock it experiences, changing its color. Scientists are working on developing a method that will allow doctors to translate a particular color into a level of neurological damage.
According to a NewScientist article, the blast waves from large roadside bombs “stretch and shear the brain, damaging the long nerve cells connecting the different regions of the brain”. The damage can only be detected with a specialized MRI scan, until now. With these crystal stickers, the hope is that the degree of damage will be apparent with a quick visual check, allowing the necessary level of care to be ascertained immediately.
When attached to a uniform or helmet in the form of a think sticker strip, these crystals can potentially be incredibly useful on the battlefield, helping to bring more of our soldiers home after receiving proper and beneficial TBI care.