The number of neck injuries has increased during the war in Afghanistan, and they have become an appreciable source of mortality and long-term morbidity for UK servicemen. A three-dimensional numerical model of the neck is necessary to allow simulation of penetrating injury from explosive fragments so that the design of body armour can be optimal, and a framework is required to validate and describe the individual components of this program. An interdisciplinary consensus group consisting of military maxillofacial surgeons, and biomedical, physical, and material scientists was convened to generate the components of the framework, and as a result it incorporates the following components: analysis of deaths and long-term morbidity, assessment of critical cervical structures for incorporation into the model, characterisation of explosive fragments, evaluation of the material of which the body armour is made, and mapping of the entry sites of fragments. The resulting numerical model will simulate the wound tract produced by fragments of differing masses and velocities, and illustrate the effects of temporary cavities on cervical neurovascular structures. Using this framework, a new shirt to be worn under body armour that incorporates ballistic cervical protection has been developed for use in Afghanistan. New designs of the collar validated by human factors and assessment of coverage are currently being incorporated into early versions of the numerical model. The aim of this paper is to describe this developmental framework and provide an update on the current progress of its individual components.
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