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  1. #1
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    Default Convention Meeting--Clinical Perspective on Air Vests--EMSA Committee

    It's going on right now.

    Be very interesting what clinical data they have to support a perspective.

    If anyone goes to this, please let us know what was said.
    "I'm a lumberjack, and I'm okay."
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  2. #2
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    i too am very, very interested both as a rider and a clinician.
    And the wise, Jack Daniels drinking, slow-truck-driving, veteran TB handler who took "no shit from no hoss Miss L, y'hear," said: "She aint wrapped too tight."


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  3. #3
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    I was there and the clinical side of things was weak. Very weak. It was more a place for air vest manufacturers to do a presentation on their product and that's exactly what happened. Point Two had a power point presentation in support of their product and argued that their product is safe because it meets the only current standard for air vests (SARTA M38.) A guy from Hit Air talked a bit. The audience was less than impressed by the standard and testing. Why do they keep showing pictures of riders being rolled on by their horses when that's not what is tested in the standards? Reed suggested that EMSA and riders come up with a standard, since no one else is.

    The poor Point Two rep. He really wasn't prepared for Reed


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  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Desert Topaz View Post
    The poor Point Two rep. He really wasn't prepared for Reed
    Please tell me there is video.
    "Drawing on my fine command of the English language, I said nothing" - Robert Benchley
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  5. #5
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    No clinical data was pesented. There was some discussion about the need for clinical data, and whether EMSA could get the relevant information from USEA based on the the fall reports.

    I thought Reed was actually pretty easy on the Point Two guy.

    There was no official representative from Hit AIr (I think he got sick) and someone who sells them ried to fill in for him, but really didn't understand the concerns, and made some pretty uneducated statements.

    There was also the lady from KanTek (sp?) who talked briefly about her vests, based on a different kind of foam, the kind that is used in motorcycle protectors (I bought one). She knew about one of the people shown in the "horse falls on top of rider" video, and said that, although she may have technicaly "walked away" from the fall, she had some pretty serious injuries, and was out of commisision for some time.

    Several of us stayed affter the official end time, including me, Reed, the Point Two guy, the EMSA lady, the Charles Owens huy, and an airforce test pilot whose wife is an eventer. We missed the entire open forum as a result.

    There was quite an interesting discussion about whether it would be possible/practial to "instrument" riders to determine the actual forces in falls, how to collect relevant data, whether changes to the standards were needed, and so on. It was an interesting session, and the Point Two guy stepped out of "sales mode" a bit, but I am not sure anything will actually come of it.
    Janet

    chief feeder and mucker for Music, Spy, Belle and Tiara. Someone else is now feeding and mucking for Chief and Brain (both foxhunting now).


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  6. #6
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    So what research findings would satisfy those who question air vests? What research supports the regular vests that we have worn for years? What has the research protocol been for helmets and can a similar protocol be used for air vests?

    The only support I have for wearing an air vest is case by case, anecdotal evidence. I have photos of my one fall wearing the air vest and can personally attest to the profound difference I felt falling on the air vest as compared to hitting the ground directly. But that is one case, one subject, and self-report. And several pros I know attest to the difference in impact. All anecdotal.

    I think I've heard people argue a lot against air vests on this forum so I think it would be productive to come of with research proposals that could be carried out within a sensible budget. Obviously, we can't use crash dummies.


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  7. #7
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    There have been many threads that addressed your question ahbaumgardner -- most of which have been significantly contributed to by Reed. Do a search.

    You can't compare regular vests and helmets as they are what I would call "static" protection -- there isn't much there to make an injury worse. Air vests are mechanical-- they have a lanyard which has been shown to fail to detach the rider from the horse at key times and they change during an accident (inflate) which could have the potential to worsen injury, depending upon when it inflates and what might already be injured (we don't know -- there is NO data).

    That doesn't mean they aren't helpful in some situations. It means that you have to weigh the risk vs. benefit. For me, even though I am likely to fall in ways that the vest might cushion (I tend to go for the human lawn dart -- thrown clear in minor type falls at the lower levels), the risk of being tethered to a 1,200 lb animal outweighs the benefits.

    You have to make your own decision.


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  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by ACMEeventing View Post
    Please tell me there is video.
    Oh, I could die happy if there was video of this...although Reed did not unleash full science BS meter?


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  9. #9
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    Everyone agreed that air vests can "protect you from pain".

    The contention comes in the claim that they can protect you from death, or catastrophic injury.

    And what testing has been done, or could/should be done to test that hypothesis?
    Janet

    chief feeder and mucker for Music, Spy, Belle and Tiara. Someone else is now feeding and mucking for Chief and Brain (both foxhunting now).


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  10. #10
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    Apparently if you open your mouth, they ask you to do work. The folks at EMSA asked me to serve on their board.

    There actually was some very insightful discussion after the seminar. Roy Burek, the CEO of Charles Owen taught me a ton about the challenges of safety equipment certification. I had lunch with him and John Thier from EN and Mr. Burek even went over some of their helmet research. A wonderful education! If I only had an oval head, I would support the company.

    The air vest data was useless. There was nothing that actually backed up past claims made. I do think these companies have an idea of what they want but there really is no spec or test to actually verify efficacy. The P2 test engineer and I really see eye-to-eye, even to the recognition of my past issue with the "fail dangerous" design. It was good to see some technical effort being made.

    What is the BIG issue is access to accident data. Not just for air vests but for ALL safety equipment, including helmets, standard protectors, etc. Mr. Burek agrees and is very supportive.

    Yes, the Hit Air rep was completely over his head to the point of making very questionable statements.

    EMSA tried to be all inclusive and I absolutely respect that. But it is time to start getting data and understanding.

    And yes, there is a time and place to go all intellectual barroom brawler and this was not one of them. There were plenty of audience members who had other relevant questions and issues.


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  11. #11
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    Ah Sevendogs, you totally missed my point.

    My point was that if people want data, are there ways to actually do the research? Believe me, I DO understand that "air vests are mechanical and that they have a lanyard," etc. I wear one. What I was simply suggesting was that research on other "static" protection might provide clues as to research protocol.

    I would rather have data, than guess about the risks/benefits. And I recall, back in the day, a lot of controversy surrounding wearing approved helmets, including those who argued one could be harmed by the helmet, if the helmet rocked back and hit the base of the neck.

    I also totally get that I have to make my own decision. I already have. But I would like to admit that if we are demanding research, we need to be able to articulate what sort of data will convince us one way or another, and what would the protocol be for collecting these data.

    Quote Originally Posted by SevenDogs View Post
    There have been many threads that addressed your question ahbaumgardner -- most of which have been significantly contributed to by Reed. Do a search.

    You can't compare regular vests and helmets as they are what I would call "static" protection -- there isn't much there to make an injury worse. Air vests are mechanical-- they have a lanyard which has been shown to fail to detach the rider from the horse at key times and they change during an accident (inflate) which could have the potential to worsen injury, depending upon when it inflates and what might already be injured (we don't know -- there is NO data).

    That doesn't mean they aren't helpful in some situations. It means that you have to weigh the risk vs. benefit. For me, even though I am likely to fall in ways that the vest might cushion (I tend to go for the human lawn dart -- thrown clear in minor type falls at the lower levels), the risk of being tethered to a 1,200 lb animal outweighs the benefits.

    You have to make your own decision.


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  12. #12
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    A research protocol for studying air vests in terms of efficacy and safety could be put together quite easily by a few graduate students in relevant fields who had spent a couple of weeks studying the specific challenges of our sport. But the funding has to come from someplace FIRST. I'm not in any way an engineer nor an expert on biomechanical research, but it would almost certainly require cadavers (a lot of them), animal models, and/or crash test dummies and computer models to be able to do simulations. None of which are cheap.

    And since these vests are being snapped up in large numbers in spite of the fact that even these first baby steps have never taken place, any business-minded vest manufacturer might say . . . "why bother?".

    Until this sort of data is REQUIRED, it will never happen. And unless people stop buying the product and speak up/insist on the evidence, OR until some sort of catastrophe happens that blows the roof off the whole debate, there will be no such mandate.
    Click here before you buy.



  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by deltawave View Post
    A research protocol for studying air vests in terms of efficacy and safety could be put together quite easily by a few graduate students in relevant fields who had spent a couple of weeks studying the specific challenges of our sport. But the funding has to come from someplace FIRST. I'm not in any way an engineer nor an expert on biomechanical research, but it would almost certainly require cadavers (a lot of them), animal models, and/or crash test dummies and computer models to be able to do simulations. None of which are cheap.
    Not an expert either. But Reed, who is, repeatedly said "cadeverous tissue behaves differently from live tissue". He seemed to think it would be more useful to "instrument' large numbers of riders, and colelct the data when they fall.

    And since these vests are being snapped up in large numbers in spite of the fact that even these first baby steps have never taken place, any business-minded vest manufacturer might say . . . "why bother?".

    Until this sort of data is REQUIRED, it will never happen. And unless people stop buying the product and speak up/insist on the evidence, OR until some sort of catastrophe happens that blows the roof off the whole debate, there will be no such mandate.
    The Point Two guy expressed (legitimate) frustration that people are demanding "test data" for the air vests, but buying, in large numbers, "a vest that can't meet even the level 1 standard" (he was carefully not naming Tipperary explicitly).
    Janet

    chief feeder and mucker for Music, Spy, Belle and Tiara. Someone else is now feeding and mucking for Chief and Brain (both foxhunting now).


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  14. #14
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    I know cadavers are not the same in test situations as living tissue, but cadaver data are vastly superior to NOTHING.

    Personally I don't use Tipperaries because they appear to me to be more fashion accessories than protective equipment. But since a standard vest is PASSIVE protection and an air vest is something entirely different because it essentially explodes on impact, I believe that the item that has the potential to ADD kinetic energy to a fall/injury scenario has a much higher burden of proof of safety than something that just sits there. And yes, I'd like to see head to head trials of safety vests, too.

    Ethically I have a problem with riders using unproven safety equipment serving as live crash test dummies so that companies can collect data. I would much rather see the things banned until SOME evidence of safety comes forward. Protecting from owies is one thing, but stating that these vests have the potential to prevent serious injuries comes with a much higher burden of proof, IMO, and if they want to make that claim, they need to walk the walk.
    Click here before you buy.


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  15. #15
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    I would just like to say that Reed may 'instrument' me to the 9s in order to gather data, but I will still do my damndest to stay on the horse.

    But truly, wouldn't many many of us be willing to be the 'crash test dummies' in such a study? And certainly there are some grad students willing to do the analysis?


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  16. #16
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    I would of course be willing to be instrumented. But not while wearing an air vest. I will be the first in line to buy one AFTER they are shown safe and effective, but not BEFORE.
    Click here before you buy.


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  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by jumpsnake View Post
    But truly, wouldn't many many of us be willing to be the 'crash test dummies' in such a study? And certainly there are some grad students willing to do the analysis?
    I would be happy to participate in this research. I am thinking also that analyzing videos of falls would be useful, although obviously not the best way to produce strong scientific evidence. I for one will never school xc without one.... but that is just my personal commonsense analysis and the one fall I had which I have pretty solid evidence of what the air vest did to protect me... basically it kept the back of my head from slamming on the ground.

    If we are going to hold air vests to this standard, then I suggest we hold all safety equipment to this standard, including stirrups, safety vests, stirrup release mechanisms on saddles, martingales, helmets, boot soles, saddle balance, and the like. There seems to be a vehement reaction to air vests on this discussion board, and I am not sure why.

    And even though it seems like the air vests are being sold at high numbers; in the retail market generally, the numbers are quite small, given how small our little corner happens to be. I really doubt the companies would have the funds to do the sort of research that many want to see. And I do not see universities or potential grants coming up with the funding. Although perhaps those who are adamant about safety research, specifically on air vests, should put together a coalition to raise the funds for the research. This could also be done on all the other "safety" equipment we use, although it seems that the air vests get the most press.


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  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by RAyers View Post
    Apparently if you open your mouth, they ask you to do work. The folks at EMSA asked me to serve on their board.
    Hey Reed,

    You know the drill it's put up or shut up. Since this is a question of engineering not population-level research, you are on the hook, I am off . Works for me.



  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by deltawave View Post
    Ethically I have a problem with riders using unproven safety equipment serving as live crash test dummies so that companies can collect data. I would much rather see the things banned until SOME evidence of safety comes forward. Protecting from owies is one thing, but stating that these vests have the potential to prevent serious injuries comes with a much higher burden of proof, IMO, and if they want to make that claim, they need to walk the walk.
    Lynn,

    I beg to differ. This is the basis of observational research. So long as you properly consent participants and explain that you have no idea whether the vests help, do nothing, or cause harm (which is a fair statement at this point), I think that it is ethical to do the study.



  20. #20
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    Fair enough. IF the consent is in place beforehand I would agree. So everyone who buys an air vest should be consented and informed that they are being used in lieu of prospective safety data collection. I would accept that.
    Click here before you buy.


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