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Who knew military research on biomechanics would come in handy for toy makers?

During the 1990s and early 2000s, soldier eye and facial injuries began to increase, creating problems for military men and women.

With the help of funding from the United States Department of Defense, Professor Stefan Duma created a laboratory group at Virginia Tech University in 2000 to start finding solutions to reduce the injuries.

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Little did Duma and his lab group know, this research would interest more than the Defense Department.


“We created all of this research for eye injuries and preventing eye injuries in soldiers,” Duma said in a DoD interview. “We published all of that, and then toy companies started seeing these papers and realized they could use some of that data as well.”

This research has helped with improvements made in several popular toys, including Nerf guns, little toy helicopters and Duma’s favorite — lightsabers.

“Children and military members, I think they’re going to be very active using all of these products,” the Virginia Tech professor said. “It’s fun to go to go around and shoot Nerf toys. It’s fun to go and play with bows and arrows. We want to make sure that when they do that, it’s as safe as possible.”

Reducing the injuries and risk of injuries for soldiers and children, Duma said, is enough motivation to continue this research.

Kendall Trammell is a writer for Rare. Follow her on Twitter @KendallTrammell.
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