Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Guidelines to inform the generation of clinically relevant and realistic blast loading conditions for primary blast injury research
  1. J W Denny1,
  2. A S Dickinson1 and
  3. G S Langdon2
  1. 1 Bioengineering Science Research Group, School of Engineering, University of Southampton, Southampton, UK
  2. 2 Department of Civil and Structural Engineering, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr J W Denny, University of Southampton, Southampton SO17 1BJ, UK; Jack.Denny{at}


‘Primary’ blast injuries (PBIs) are caused by direct blast wave interaction with the human body, particularly affecting air-containing organs. With continued experimental focus on PBI mechanisms, recently on blast traumatic brain injury, meaningful test outcomes rely on appropriate simulated conditions. Selected PBI predictive criteria (grouped into those affecting the auditory system, pulmonary injuries and brain trauma) are combined and plotted to provide rationale for generating clinically relevant loading conditions. Using blast engineering theory, explosion characteristics including blast wave parameters and fireball dimensions were calculated for a range of charge masses assuming hemispherical surface detonations and compared with PBI criteria. While many experimental loading conditions are achievable, this analysis demonstrated limits that should be observed to ensure loading is clinically relevant, realistic and practical. For PBI outcomes sensitive only to blast overpressure, blast scaled distance was demonstrated to be a useful parameter for guiding experimental design as it permits flexibility for different experimental set-ups. This analysis revealed that blast waves should correspond to blast scaled distances of 1.75<Z<6.0 to generate loading conditions found outside the fireball and of clinical relevance to a range of PBIs. Blast waves with positive phase durations (2–10 ms) are more practical to achieve through experimental approaches, while representing realistic threats such as improvised explosive devices (ie, 1–50 kg trinitrotoluene equivalent). These guidelines can be used by researchers to inform the design of appropriate blast loading conditions in PBI experimental investigations.

  • trauma management
  • neurological injury
  • medical physics
  • medical education & training
  • protocols & guidelines
  • biophysics

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.


  • Twitter @JackWDenny

  • Contributors JWD: literature search, figures, study design, data collection, data analysis, data interpretation, writing and submission. AD, GL: writing, data interpretation and review.

  • Funding The authors gratefully acknowledge support from the EPSRC Doctoral Prize, the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) and the Royal Academy of Engineering (RAEng) (award number RF/130).

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Supplemental material This content has been supplied by the author(s). It has not been vetted by BMJ Publishing Group Limited (BMJ) and may not have been peer-reviewed. Any opinions or recommendations discussed are solely those of the author(s) and are not endorsed by BMJ. BMJ disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on the content. Where the content includes any translated material, BMJ does not warrant the accuracy and reliability of the translations (including but not limited to local regulations, clinical guidelines, terminology, drug names and drug dosages), and is not responsible for any error and/or omissions arising from translation and adaptation or otherwise.