The wearing of eye protection by United Kingdom soldiers in Afghanistan has reduced the morbidity caused by explosive fragments. However, the remaining face remains uncovered because there is a lack of evidence to substantiate the procurement of methods to protect it. Using a new computerised tool we entered details of the entry sites of surface wounds caused by explosive fragments in all UK soldiers who were injured in the face between 1 January 2010 and 31 December 2011. We compared clinical and predicted immediate and long term outcomes (as defined by the Abbreviated Injury Score (AIS) and the Functional Capacity Index (pFCI), respectively). We also used the tool to predict how additional protection in the form of a visor and mandible guard would affect outcomes. A soldier wearing eye protection was 9 times (1.03/0.12) less likely to sustain an eye injury than one without. However, 38% of soldiers in this series were not wearing eye protection at the time of injury. There was no significant difference between the AIS and pFCI scores predicted by the tool and those found clinically. There is limited evidence to support the use of a mandible guard; its greatest asset is better protection of the nose, but a visor would be expected to reduce long-term morbidity more than eye protection alone, and we recommend future trials to assess its acceptability to users. We think that use of this novel tool can help in the selection of future methods of ballistic facial protection.
Keywords: Ballistic; Eye; Face; Injury; Mapping; Outcome; Prediction; Protection; Wound.
Copyright © 2014. Published by Elsevier Ltd.