Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a major health problem. Between 3.2 and 5.3 million people live with long-term disabilities resulting from TBI, and thus, contribute to the need to develop therapies that treat TBI-induced cellular damage. Researchers at the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) have developed a device that simulates the pressure waves resulting from explosions. This invention can be used to study the in vitro effects of shock waves on cells in culture and could be used to determine the effects of potential treatments for TBI in an in vitro cellular model. The device consists of a source of compressed gas connected to a chamber containing cells. Cells can be derived from central nervous system (CNS) tissue, muscle, etc. The effects of the release of the compressed gas (blast) on the cells can be monitored in real time in a microscope or other imaging device.