David A. Borkholder
Future Forces Forum
World CBRN & MEDICAL Congress (CEBIRAM) 2018
Future Forces Individual Systems Congress (FFISC) - International Industry Day 2018
Future Forces Exhibition 2018
Founder and CTO
BlackBox Biometrics, Inc.
Abstract1: Individual Blast Exposure Monitoring: Consequences for Service Members Helath, Performance, and Readiness
Blast overpressure (BOP) is a serious environmental hazard unique to military operations. While there are some rudimentary standards in place to protect servicemembers, no safety policy exists to monitor repeat exposure or look at long-term effects. Current standards are based on likelihood of overt injury and don’t account for the long-term morbidity associated with environmental exposures. Decades of data suggest that repetitive exposure to BOP decreases the threshold for future injury. Further, it’s well documented that routine training firing current munitions exposes servicemembers to levels of BOP that are unsafe. Yet no record of exposures is kept, and no mitigation strategy exists to minimize exposure. It’s imperative to implement a safety program mirroring those used for radiation safety to ensure that proper steps are taken to mitigate hazards from BOP. A review of environmental exposure programs provides a template for effective blast exposure surveillance, with four critical elements to protect the servicemember from the occupational hazard. At-risk personnel are equipped with sensors to provide objective and quantitative blast exposure data in both training and operations, giving them the ability to Triage, Adjust Tactics, Trace Symptoms, and Track Exposures.
Formal blast exposure surveillance for military personnel is critical to understand the dose-response relationship between BOP and acute and chronic injury. It’s the only way to gather data on enough individuals to unravel the complex relationship between exposure history and progressive neurodegenerative disease. The required environmental blast sensors are available, proven, and ready to meet this critical capability gap.
Abstract2: Health and Situational Awareness: Immediate Response Through Real-Time Alerts
In the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), US Congress directed the Department of Defense (DoD) to conduct a longitudinal study, recording overpressures on all servicemembers who may be exposed to blast. This study expects to have thresholds for damage from repetitive blast as early as 2019. Blast dosimeters, namely the Blast Gauge® System, are utilized in this study and others within the DoD for objective, personalized blast measurement. Essential to understanding the readiness of a warfighter, blast dosimeters already provide Health Awareness to leaders on the exposure level of their unit. But this dosimetry system, when tied into an Individual Soldier System, can provide Situational wareness to the leader as well. Several concurrent efforts are taking place in the US to tie this blast dosimeter into developing Soldier Sensor Systems. With a blast sensor tied into a radio-based Soldier System, alerts can be sent in real-time whenever a warfighter experiences blast exposure over preset thresholds. Commanders will receive notifications on their battle trackers when their unit is in contact and returning fire, taking mortar or rocket fire, or struck by an IED. Leaders can proactively seek reports from subordinates and prepare an appropriate response, such as reinforcements or
medical evacuation. Most importantly, blast sensors can provide health awareness and situational awareness simultaneously. After alerting the commander of an incident, blast exposure levels are logged and saved for future medical use. With blast sensors integrated into Individual Soldier Systems, leaders gain the initiative in health and situational awareness.
Dr. Borkholder led the team that developed the DARPA funded prototype blast gauge at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) and is the Founder and CTO of B3. He is an experienced entrepreneur who has successfully executed rapid-turn electronic development efforts in Silicon Valley startups. Dr. Borkholder holds a BS (1992) in Microelectronic Engineering from the Rochester Institute of Technology, and a MS (1994) and PhD (1999) in Electrical Engineering from Stanford University. He is the Bausch and Lomb Professor of Microsystems Engineering at RIT where his laboratory develops systems for study and treatment of hearing loss, physiological monitoring systems, and wearable sensors for BOP monitoring. He brings a unique understanding of the auditory system and hearing loss coupled with deep knowledge of military deployable sensors for capture of environmental BOP exposures in both training and combat. Dr. Borkholder has published over 100 technical and scientific works, including 19 issued patents.