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USAARL News
Last updated: 01/28/2014


^ Photo Caption: The dual-mode Noise Immune Stethoscope. ^
U.S. Army photo by Scott Childress

Noise Immune Stethoscope (NIS) approved for production
Catherine Davis, Public Affairs Specialist

FORT RUCKER, Ala. (Jan. 21, 2014) – In collaboration with Active Signal Technologies, a Small Business Innovation Research partner, the U.S. Army Aeromedical Research Laboratory, Fort Rucker, Ala. and U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command, Fort Detrick, Md. developed a medical device that can be used to listen to heart and lung sounds in high-noise environments such as medical evacuation vehicles.

“Heart and lung sounds are a necessary component of casualty triage and ongoing care. Hearing and assessing these sounds with traditional acoustic stethoscopes is very difficult on the battlefield. It is vitally important that military medical care providers have the necessary tools while managing patients.” said Maj. Tim Cho, USAARL Aeromedical Factors branch chief.

The Noise Immune Stethoscope, like a standard acoustic stethoscope, uses an acoustic listening mode, and also adds ultrasound-based technology that is “noise immune” to amplify heart and lung sounds. This technology has the capability for users to easily switch from Doppler to acoustic mode. Both modes immediately turn body sounds into electrical signals for enhanced performance. The Communications Earplug, currently being used by aviators, attaches to the NIS and allows auscultation while wearing the flight helmet.

“The dual-mode stethoscope is specifically designed for high noise conditions,” said Cho. “As a result, the flight surgeon or flight medic will be able to make more accurate decisions while en route to higher echelons of care during flight.”

The NIS enables medical personnel to assess abnormalities of the cardiopulmonary system in high-noise environments like the transportation of wounded Soldiers in medical evacuation aircraft, ground warfare, and intensive care units.

Between 2007 and 2013, the NIS received U.S. Food and Drug Administration 510(k) clearance, and through a series of rigorous laboratory and field tests conducted by USAARL, the NIS received an airworthiness release for use on-board the Black Hawk helicopter. The device is now approved for full-rate production to be used in real-world operational environments.

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^ Photo Caption: John Ramiccio, right, chief, Flight Systems Branch, U.S. Army Aeromedical Research Laboratory, briefs Capt. Jeffrey Andrews, commanding officer of Naval Medical Research Unit-Dayton during a demonstration of the Tactile Situation Awareness System at Fort Rucker, Ala. Sep. 18. During the visit to USAARL, Andrews and Dr. Richard Arnold, NAMRU-D technology director, met with USAARL researchers to discuss future collaboration efforts. Andrews and Arnold also presented to laboratory personnel a seminar on NAMRU-D history, mission, and primary goals. ^
Photo by Catherine Davis, USAARL

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^ Photo Caption:Col. Mark Packer, director of the DoD Hearing Center of Excellence, and Tanisha Hammill, senior research administrator, visited the U.S. Army Aeromedical Research Laboratory at Fort Rucker, Ala. Sep. 11. Packer and Hammill met with the command team and principal investigators involved in auditory and vestibular research to discuss USAARL’s collaboration with HCoE. These discussions focused on building upon a high caliber network of physicians, scientists, and researchers devoted to solving and/or preventing hearing loss and auditory related injuries within the DoD. Packer also presented to laboratory personnel a seminar on HCoE’s history, mission, and primary goals. ^
Photo by Steve Martin, USAARL

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^ Photo Caption: The result of USAARL's legacy patient litter support system, three modern litters, and three crash-test dummies after the crash test Aug 29. ^
Photo by NASA

USAARL, NASA crash helicopter to protect aircrew
Catherine Davis, Public Affairs Specialist

Engineers and scientists crashed a former Marine CH-46 helicopter airframe at Langley’s Landing and Impact Research Facility in Hampton, Va., Aug. 29.

As part of the Rotary Wing Project in NASA’s Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate, the U.S. Army Aeromedical Research Laboratory at Fort Rucker, Ala. is collaborating with NASA, the U.S. Navy, the Federal Aviation Administration, and Cobham, an occupant restraint system manufacturer, on the Transport Rotorcraft Airframe Crash Test Bed full-scale crash test.

The purpose of the crash was to collect baseline data in preparation for future crash research with composite structures, and to answer questions aimed at occupant protection and injury mitigation during a helicopter crash. This was the first of two planned tests in the Rotary Wing Project.

Loaded with 15 crash-test dummies, the helicopter was lifted 30 feet into the air and released – crashing onto the ground at about 30 miles per hour. The impact represents a severe but survivable condition under both civilian and military requirements.

The interior and exterior of the helicopter was instrumented with a total of 40 high-speed cameras, recording at rates of more than 500 images per second. These images will allow researchers to investigate dynamic performance issues related to litter patients in the cabin of a rotary-wing airframe.

USAARL’s support, funded by the U.S. Army Medical Materiel Development Activity, provided NASA with a legacy patient litter support system, similar to that currently used in the Army’s CH-47 helicopter, three modern patient litters, two crash-test dummies, two high-speed video cameras, and data acquisition systems.

“USAARL’s overall goal is to protect Soldiers from injuries,” said Joe McEntire, a USAARL research mechanical engineer leading the Army’s collaboration effort. “Testing in a dynamic environment provides USAARL with baseline data of the performance of the legacy patient litter support systems.”

McEntire said that the data will be used to influence the design of future aeromedical transport equipment, such as patient litters.

Although preliminary observations indicate useful data were collected during the crash, the information will take months to analyze.

“Next year, during the second CH-46 crash test, we will install a modern litter support system for a comparative analysis with the legacy system,” said McEntire. “Our overall intent is to protect the litter occupants, the attending flight medics, and aircrew during aircraft crash events.”

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^ Photo Caption: Fort Rucker Elementary School teachers and staff members tour the U.S. Army Aeromedical Research Laboratory at Fort Rucker, Ala. Aug 26. ^
Photo by Steve Nelson

USAARL, FRES form partnership to benefit Fort Rucker students
Catherine Davis, Public Affairs Specialist

Forty Fort Rucker Elementary School teachers and staff members toured the U.S. Army Aeromedical Research Laboratory at Fort Rucker, Ala., Aug. 26.

The tour, which was held on a FRES professional development work day, educated the teachers about USAARL’s primary research areas such as biomechanics, vision, acoustics, and neuroscience.

“I had an amazing time and learned so much about all of the different types of research that are being conducted at USAARL. The tour was definitely one of the top five professional development work day experiences in my many years of teaching. I hope to connect what I learned at USAARL with what I am doing in the classroom,” said Donna Brecher, FRES gifted resource teacher.

FRES, a science, technology, engineering, and mathematics school in the Department of Defense Education Activity Georgia/Alabama district, focuses on improving instruction and providing a solid educational foundation for students. The school’s STEM program aims to create future critical thinkers and problem solvers.

USAARL, although focused on Army research, development, test, and evaluation, offers STEM education internships through the Gains in the Education of Mathematics and Science and the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Engineering programs.

With goals of developing future STEM professionals, USAARL and FRES initiated a partnership that will benefit the STEM education programs of both Fort Rucker entities.

“Our goal is to grow USAARL’s STEM education outreach by offering the expertise of our scientists and engineers to expand the school’s education endeavors,” said Col. John Smyrski, USAARL commander.

“This partnership between USAARL and FRES will be a phenomenal opportunity,” said Vicki Gilmer, FRES principal. “We are so excited to be combining our resources, sharing our talents, and working together to help provide amazing educational experiences for our students.”