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IFG
Jan. 9, 2011, 01:45 PM
Football helmets are getting a database to track safety performance. It seems that eventing helmets could use something similar:

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/09/sports/football/09helmets.html

deltawave
Jan. 9, 2011, 01:50 PM
I have forever wondered why there weren't "head to head" (pardon the pun) studies of different helmets. The ASTM-SEI certification is fine, but why not an actual rating or scoring system so we can see which helmets are BEST, instead of merely meeting the standard?

If a helmet needs a (theoretical) "score" of 50 points to receive ASTM-SEI certification, and brand X scores a 51 while brand Q scores a 90, well, I'd be shopping for a brand Q, all things considered. :)

IFG
Jan. 9, 2011, 02:02 PM
I have forever wondered why there weren't "head to head" (pardon the pun) studies of different helmets. The ASTM-SEI certification is fine, but why not an actual rating or scoring system so we can see which helmets are BEST, instead of merely meeting the standard?

If a helmet needs a (theoretical) "score" of 50 points to receive ASTM-SEI certification, and brand X scores a 51 while brand Q scores a 90, well, I'd be shopping for a brand Q, all things considered. :)

ENHAP used to score helmets, but they stopped. I am not sure why. Perhaps push back from manufacturers?

medical mike
Jan. 9, 2011, 07:51 PM
To play the devils advocate,

Would that 51 guarantee me less injury than 90?

Regards,
Medical Mike
equestrian medical researcher
www.equicision.com

deltawave
Jan. 9, 2011, 08:17 PM
I'm not looking for a guarantee. But if there are data showing that the 90 offers more protection than the 51, AND the 90 fits me well AND the improved score is meaningful for what I do, then I would certainly favor the 90 over the 51.

This kind of score or rating would require "crash test dummy" type of tests, I would imagine. And I'd accept something along the lines of what car companies provide: a 5-star rating for front, side, and rear impact at galloping speed from about 7-8 feet in the air would be nice. :)

IFG
Jan. 9, 2011, 08:59 PM
If there were a registry of accidents/helmet types worn, then it would definitely be possible to correlate level of injury with type of helmet worn. Together with sales information, you could even calculate injury rates/ helmets sold annually. Could the stats be confounded by the type of people who bought the specific helmet brands? Probably yes, but it would still provide tons of good usable information.

So yes, a database of this type would definitely provide data useful to answer the question, "Which helmet is safest?"

Kementari
Jan. 9, 2011, 09:44 PM
I would LOVE to have access to such info. I think it's ridiculous that I can find reams of advice on which toaster works best, but nothing about an item that could potentially save my life.

JER
Jan. 9, 2011, 09:53 PM
The Mark Davies Injured Riders Fund (http://www.mdirf.co.uk/) used to do this in the UK.

Just don't expect to see this sort of testing and data coming from any entity that is dependent on the advertising or sponsorship dollars from one of the helmet companies.

Here's a cautionary tale from the motorcycle world:

How the Truth About Motorcycle Helmets Got a Journalist Fired (http://jalopnik.com/5582380/how-the-truth-about-motorcycle-helmets-got-a-journalist-fired)

IFG
Jan. 9, 2011, 10:19 PM
Just don't expect to see this sort of testing and data coming from any entity that is dependent on the advertising or sponsorship dollars from one of the helmet companies.
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JER, a registry would not require anything from industry. All that is needed is for a rider (or a rider's family) to report the type of helmet, the type of accident, and the nature of the injuries. It can be a very cheap thing to assemble and run. These registries are quite popular in health care for capturing information on cancer, characteristics associated with certain medical tests, etc.

No information from industry nor testing is needed. That is what makes it so appealing.

IFG
Jan. 9, 2011, 10:20 PM
p.s. Not sure why, but the link is now requiring you to register to view. I think because it is now "yesterday's news." Sorry.

JER
Jan. 9, 2011, 10:33 PM
IFG, who would maintain this database?

The USEF and USEA have sponsors like Helmet Company. If their helmets appeared in any kind of negative light, Helmet Company might pull their sponsorship or ask that the database be shut down.

IFG
Jan. 9, 2011, 10:42 PM
IFG, who would maintain this database?

The USEF and USEA have sponsors like Helmet Company. If their helmets appeared in any kind of negative light, Helmet Company might pull their sponsorship or ask that the database be shut down.

Not sure, but I can tell you that medical device makers will often sponsor studies in which their products are compared with those of their competitors. I would think that USEF or an independent entity could set it up. If someone tech savvy were willing to work on it, it might not be that pricey.

horsefaerie
Jan. 9, 2011, 11:05 PM
I did a lot of research on helmets awhile back. What I found was most depressing. The studies done on helmets basically involved dropping a weight onto the helmet and measuring absorbed force.

None were done to simulate actual falls, difference in body weight, head weight and how the helmets themselves can cause additional injury in some kinds of falls.

Speaking of equestrian helmets.

I found many articles on other types of helmets and the results were basically the same.

It did seem as though advertising and sales still trump safety every time.

I even inquired to some companies without response.

If you have a few hours with nothing else to do it is enlightening.

PROTACKGUY
Jan. 10, 2011, 11:10 AM
I did a lot of research on helmets awhile back. What I found was most depressing. The studies done on helmets basically involved dropping a weight onto the helmet and measuring absorbed force.

None were done to simulate actual falls, difference in body weight, head weight and how the helmets themselves can cause additional injury in some kinds of falls.

Speaking of equestrian helmets.

I found many articles on other types of helmets and the results were basically the same.

It did seem as though advertising and sales still trump safety every time.

I even inquired to some companies without response.

If you have a few hours with nothing else to do it is enlightening.

Helmets have to be tested on equipment not on actual people, that is unless you would like to be the tester :)

The ASTM standard is an open procedure that allows ALL interested parties to have input. The group does their best to determine what are the typical forces involved in an equestrian accident and then translates that into a test procedure that uses a helmet on a testing head etc. While the idea that the standards can be improved is certainly valid, the idea that the current standards are done in an unscientific manner or one that does not consider the rider, head weight etc. under different conditions is not accurate.

All helmets that are tested to the ASTM standard and pass do have different test scores. Some are higher than the what is required to pass. While it is likely that a helmet with a higher rating would be safer, the question is how much so? If it can withstand a force of 500 joules rather than 400 is it 25% safer ? A very difficult question to answer.

Not really sure what you are saying about advetising trumping safety. Please elaborate.

His Greyness
Jan. 10, 2011, 04:17 PM
The National Highway Transportation Safety Board test motorcycle helmets against the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 218. Although this FMVSS 218 standard is less demanding than ASTM F1163-04a, the NHTSB publishes the actual test results. Some helmet test results are well within the requirements of ASTM F1163-04a.

For example I now wear a motorcycle half helmet that tested with a maximum decelleration measurement of 200g. Lower numbers are better. ASTM F1163-04a sets the maximum decelleration at 300g.