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Defining the essential anatomical coverage provided by military body armour against high energy projectiles
  1. John Breeze1,2,
  2. E A Lewis3,
  3. R Fryer4,
  4. A E Hepper2,
  5. Peter F Mahoney5 and
  6. Jon C Clasper6
  1. 1Academic Department of Military Surgery and Trauma, Royal Centre for Defence Medicine, Birmingham, UK
  2. 2Biomedical Sciences Department, Dstl Porton Down, Salisbury, Wiltshire, UK
  3. 3Defence Equipment and Support, Ministry of Defence Abbey Wood, Bristol, UK
  4. 4Land Battlespace Systems Department, Defence Science & Technology Laboratory, Fareham, Hampshire, UK
  5. 5Academic Department of Military Anaesthesia and Critical Care, Royal Centre for Defence Medicine, Birmingham, UK
  6. 6The Royal British Legion Centre for Blast Injury Studies at Imperial College London, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to Maj John Breeze, Academic Department of Military Surgery and Trauma, Royal Centre for Defence Medicine, Birmingham Research Park, Birmingham B15 2SQ, UK; johno.breeze{at}gmail.com

Abstract

Introduction Body armour is a type of equipment worn by military personnel that aims to prevent or reduce the damage caused by ballistic projectiles to structures within the thorax and abdomen. Such injuries remain the leading cause of potentially survivable deaths on the modern battlefield. Recent developments in computer modelling in conjunction with a programme to procure the next generation of UK military body armour has provided the impetus to re-evaluate the optimal anatomical coverage provided by military body armour against high energy projectiles.

Methods A systematic review of the literature was undertaken to identify those anatomical structures within the thorax and abdomen that if damaged were highly likely to result in death or significant long-term morbidity. These structures were superimposed upon two designs of ceramic plate used within representative body armour systems using a computerised representation of human anatomy.

Results and conclusions Those structures requiring essential medical coverage by a plate were demonstrated to be the heart, great vessels, liver and spleen. For the 50th centile male anthropometric model used in this study, the front and rear plates from the Enhanced Combat Body Armour system only provide limited coverage, but do fulfil their original requirement. The plates from the current Mark 4a OSPREY system cover all of the structures identified in this study as requiring coverage except for the abdominal sections of the aorta and inferior vena cava. Further work on sizing of plates is recommended due to its potential to optimise essential medical coverage.

  • FORENSIC MEDICINE
  • TRAUMA MANAGEMENT
  • Received February 25, 2015.
  • Revision received July 2, 2015.
  • Accepted July 5, 2015.

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  • Received February 25, 2015.
  • Revision received July 2, 2015.
  • Accepted July 5, 2015.
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