Studies into blast injuries at Imperial College London
The Royal British Legion Centre for Blast Injury Studies at Imperial College London is the first collaboration of its kind in the UK, where civilian engineers and scientists work alongside military doctors, supported by charitable funding, to reduce the effects of roadside bombs or Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) - the leading cause of death and injury for Service personnel on operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.
The goals of the new Centre are to increase understanding about blast injury patterns, improve treatments and recovery and develop better ways of protecting those serving in current and future conflicts - thus reducing the long-term impacts of such injuries on individuals, their families and the community.
The Royal British Legion is providing £5 million to establish the Centre. Imperial College London will lead on the scientific research, which builds on the work already carried out by the Imperial Blast research group at the College.
The Legion will also participate in the strategic direction of the Centre. The Centre's work will complement the Legion's existing range of support for wounded, injured and sick serving men and women of current conflicts, as well as for ex-serving personnel and their families.
Professor Anthony Bull, from the Department of Bioengineering at Imperial College London and Director of the new Centre, said: "Previously, Service men and women who were wounded from blasts would have died from their injuries, and now military protection, medical science and practice has improved greatly so that there is a greater prospect of survival. We now need to assess the effects of blasts on these survivors. We urgently need to know more, so that we can protect and treat people more effectively. This Centre can make a real difference to the survival and quality of life of those serving in conflicts."
Understanding how blasts affect the body internally in more detail could lead to new therapies and better outcomes for patients.
For more information visit the Legion's news page.
Comments from injured ex-Servicemen
Legion beneficiary, Aron Shelton, 27, formerly of 2nd Battalion, The Mercian Regiment had his leg amputated in 2008 following an incident in Afghanistan in 2007 when the vehicle he was travelling in hit a roadside bomb. He has been advised that he'll most probably have to have his other leg amputated in the near future.
Aron said: "The blast that took my leg took my mate's life. If this research can save lives and limbs in the future then it can only be a good thing. This is why I support the Legion and the Poppy Appeal - donations go directly into funding projects like this." Read more about Aron and view a video interview here.
Triple amputee and former Royal Marine Commando Mark Ormrod, 28, was on a routine patrol in Afghanistan when he stepped on an IED on Christmas Eve, 2007. He needed 28 pints of blood to save his life and lost both of his legs and an arm. Mark now volunteers for the Legion helping others who need the charity's assistance.
Mr Ormrod said: "I very nearly lost my life for my country, so of course I absolutely welcome any research to better understand blast injuries and to treat and equip injured Service personnel in the future. It's a very real problem for the lads serving out in Afghanistan today and I'm glad the Legion is funding this research."