|Acquisition Program: ||EMW-FY09-06 EC, Individual Warfighter Lightweight Protective System|| Objective: ||Develop a validated simulation for predicting neck loads during realistic Warfighter tasks.
|| Description: ||The desire to protect the Warfighter’s head from higher ballistic threats has required the use of heavier and heavier materials. This headborne load creates a potential cause of intense fatigue or even injury while conducting dismounted military operations. Advancements in neck load evaluations, specific to these types of movements, are needed in order to improve helmet designs that are affected not only by added weight but also by the placement of headborne sensors and communications devices. A physics-based simulation tool is needed that would simulate neck loads while a Warfighter conducted relevant Warfighter movements while wearing various headborne equipment that varied in weight and placement. It would demonstrate the ability to optimize neck loads in order to reduce fatigue and injury while improving mobility, stability, and comfort. This simulation tool would include the ability to analyze adjustment strategies, such as minimizing neck torque by changing head angle or amount of knee bending. This effort would use Government collected data for demonstration and validation. This effort would enable progress towards a mission-based optimization tool for designing or selecting headborne equipment.
|| ||PHASE I: Build and demonstrate a validated physics-based simulation that estimates neck loading and fatiguing of a Warfighter engaged in at least three common mission tasks; such as marching, running, jumping, etc. This simulation should include the ability to accurately analyze neck load adjustment strategies through the repositioning of head/helmet mounted equipment. This basic and validated simulation tool will allow for further investigations to maximize warfighter performance and reduce injuries from over burdened muscular and skeletal systems.
|| ||PHASE II: Using existing experimental bio-mechanics data and the validated simulation tool developed in phase I demonstrate the applicability of the tool by optimizing a generic improved helmet system (center of gravity, weight distribution and stability) and identify maximum loads the head/neck can carry over the various durations and operational tasks without causing significant fatigue or injury (temporary or permanent). Simulation will demonstrate ability to optimize neck loads based on equipment design and individual movement.
|| ||PHASE III: This tool will be used by military R&D and acquisition organizations to design and select protective headborne equipment. Phase III will seek to expand the scope of mission tasks to include more intense select mission functions (firing weapons, high impact insults, NVG compatibility and weight distributions, etc). It will also seek to integrate this tool with others that analyze different aspects of personal survivability.
PRIVATE SECTOR COMMERCIAL POTENTIAL/|| ||DUAL-USE APPLICATIONS: The sports industry can benefit by being able to evaluate and optimize protective headgear against fatigue or discomfort.
|| References: ||
1) USARIEM report on “The Effects of Military Helmets and Night Vision Goggles on Neck Biomechanics During Combat Foot Soldier Physical Activities.”
2) PM-MERS study “Investigation of the Preferred Mass Properties for Infantry Headwear Systems.”
3) ONR and Army study on “Validation of a Physics-Based Simulation of Warfighter Neck Load.”
|Keywords: ||simulation; neck load; validation; biomechanics; headwear; helmet|