Significance of Skull Fractures and Traumatic Brain Injuries Potentially Caused by Blunt-Impact Non-Lethal Weapons

July, 2018
IDA document: D-9220
FFRDC: Systems and Analyses Center
Type: Documents
Division: Science and Technology Division , Science, Systems and Sustainment Division
Allison L. King, Michael S. Finnin, Corinne M. Kramer See more authors
Non-lethal weapons (NLWs) are systems designed to immediately and reversibly incapacitate targeted personnel or materiel, while minimizing fatalities, permanent injuries to personnel, and undesired damage to property. Often employed in crowd dispersal, NLWs serve as a deterrent by inducing pain or muscle spasm at the site of impact of the affected individual, but they may also induce skull fractures and traumatic brain injury, which are the focus of this document. As part of the DoD acquisition process, combat developers must compare the capabilities of NLW systems to requirements to assess technical maturity. One important requirement stipulates the acceptable likelihood of injury, often quantified as the risk of significant injury (RSI). A NLW’s RSI is a compound metric that estimates the likelihood that the NLW will cause an injury and the significance of that injury. Computational models could potentially estimate the first part of RSI, the likelihood that the blunt impact produced by a NLW will cause skull fracture or TBI. This report focuses on the second part of RSI, the significance of these injuries, which could guide future Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Directorate modeling efforts.