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Skeletal Blast Trauma: determining the effect of known and experimental blast events on trauma patterns, fracture behavior, and blast scene recovery approaches

Award Information

Award #
Funding Category
Competitive Discretionary
Congressional District
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2020, $150,000)

There is currently no synthesis of civilian blast trauma for the U.S., nor has there been anthropological experimental studies of human skeletal blast trauma. In addition, there is currently a need for more experimental trauma research in anthropology. This project will use records from known blast events to synthesize skeletal blast trauma profiles of accidental, intentional (suicidal and homicidal), and warfare-caused blast events, and then compare these data to real-world experimental blast events using human cadavers. The case data will be collected from medical examiners' and coroners' offices and the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency and will include blast event data and trauma data (body and bone insults). These data will be analyzed using both nonparametric categorical analyses and spatial analyses of the distribution of trauma to produce a profile for each blast type. The results of these analyses will then be compared to the experimental blast events using human cadavers in partnership with the Forensic Anthropology Center at Texas State (FACTS) and the Collin County Fire Investigation Association (CCFIA). The experimental blast events will also examine the effects of the blast wave on skeletal trauma and if the directionality of the blast event can be determined. The experiments will use six human cadavers from the willed body donation program at FACTS in six blast events, two with the blast impacting the body laterally, two anteriorly, and two posteriorly. The scene will be documented using terrestrial LiDAR before and after the blast, line searches by zone, photography, high-speed photography, and RTK GPS points of evidence and human remains. Using the fracture assessment triad, intrinsic and extrinsic factors will be assessed to understand fracture behavior. The intrinsic data collected will include body mass, histological rib bone density and robusticity (cross-sectional and gross geometry), and MicroCT cross-sectional bone density values. The extrinsic factors will include the blast direction, velocity of blast, and fracture timing. Data analyses will control for intrinsic and extrinsic factors to determine fracture behavior for the blast wave. The direction of the trauma will be compared to the known trauma to determine if directionality is determinable. The experimental data will then be compared to the real-world data. The deliverables will include methods for blast event human remains recovery and trauma analysis, three articles for publication, the dissertation, and a workshop on human remains recovery in blast events and mass disasters created for law enforcement, first responders, anthropologists, and death investigators.
Note: This project contains a research and/or development component, as defined in applicable law, and complies with Part 200 Uniform Requirements - 2 CFR 200.210(a)(14). CA/NCF

Date Created: September 18, 2020