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Finally! An Air Vest Study...Air Vest Users Should Read This!

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    Original Poster

    #41
    Well the author/researcher (not sure the proper term) sent me the full study.

    She advised "The finding raises questions that can only be answered with further research, so well done on your advocacy for research."

    So, it's just a lead, but it does confirm what we have all been saying for a long time. We need a lot more research before we can claim these vests are "safer" as everyone who wears one claims.
    Last edited by Jealoushe; Jun. 12, 2019, 09:26 AM.
    Boss Mare Eventing Blog

    Comment


      #42
      Originally posted by Sticky Situation View Post
      RAyers ... I’ve read the full text and glanced through the FEI statistics and as you said, it seems that the FEI only gathers information about falls on XC, not showjumping (or dressage!) ... so logically the data used in the study would include only XC falls.

      But the authors put right in the discussion “The inclusion of falls in all eventing disciplines, and not just the cross country phase of eventing, may explain the lower fall percentages in our study” (as compared to the French study on “effectiveness of air jackets in falls during the cross country phase of eventing.”) What am I missing here? Why would the authors include that statement if the FEI data only includes falls which occur on XC?

      Also ... it doesn’t seem that they broke air vest/no air vest data down by level. I wouldn’t be surprised if there are fewer air vests overall worn at the 1* level compared to the 4* level ... so that could be another confounding factor. Regardless, nothing here makes me inclined to change my non-air-vest wearing ways, even with the weaknesses in the study.


      If you look at the FEI dataset (Reference 4 in the article) you will know that the data is ONLY XC. Thus, the authors, being non riders, most likely thought the concept of 1*, 2*, 3*, 4* long and short, CIC, CCI, were "different disciplines." I don't blame them for not knowing the rules.

      The study they reference (Reference 20) was done at a single facility over 9 events. Thus, it is a smaller dataset, but much more tightly controlled.

      Given their hypothesis was ONLY about wearing an air vest versus not, breaking the data down by levels is pointless in the statistical analysis. To add the cohort of level as you wish, now you get into invariant risk analysis which adds a WHOLE new level of complexity to the needed information to be collected.

      Comment


        #43
        I think two points here are important ...

        - The popularity of air vests is due to anecdotal evidence from riders who feel that the air vest saved them from serious injury resulting from a fall. That's very probably the evidence on which most people make their decision to buy. Other users may just like the idea of the air vest.

        - The data looked at in this published study isn't very well vetted. It was not gathered under controlled conditions, and as pointed out, it passes through various human filters who weren't using standard definitions.

        So it's interesting, but in my mind, due to the two above points, in no way does it cause me to reach a conclusion for or against air vests.

        Has any study been done on non-air safety vests? To be really conclusive, a more constructive and standardized study needs to be done on the air vests and the various designs of the other safety vests.

        Comment


          #44
          Just IMO -

          To be valid to me, a 'safety vest study' needs to be done in the same way that they do studies on car air bags, of air vests AND every other type of safety vest that is frequently found on active eventers.

          That is, in a lab, with crash test dummies or whatever they use these days to gather data that is systematic and comparable. The same forces can be applied in the same way to achieve truly comparable data. And of course they need to look at different kinds of force applied in different ways, designing the tests to be as close as possible to the kinds of situations that most often occur on course (guess that will need some video examples).

          Question #1 is exactly what does each type of vest does under force. Question #2, 3, 4 and etc. would be different types of force applied in different ways.

          I do not believe that data gathered by the FEI is ever going to provide more than a directional pointer. No matter what the FEI records, it can't answer more specific questions about what the vests do and don't do. In fact I'd consider the FEI data very nearly anecdotal. It has some worth, but it can't be exact.

          Comment


            #45
            Originally posted by RAyers View Post
            Ahhhhhh, reprints. I have cases of them in storage. You used to get 100 (at least in my preferred journals) at no charge.
            When I moved last year, I dumped all of my old reprints into the recycle bin. Some were decades old, but it was a surprisingly difficult thing to do. I stood there with a big stack of papers in my hands staring at the recycle bin for way too long.
            "Facts are meaningless. You can use facts to prove anything
            that's even remotely true."

            Homer Simpson

            Comment


              #46
              O and O,

              You are asking for a different animal. The equivalent is car accident statistics, e.g. texting and driving leads to an increase in accidents (there never was a controlled laboratory experiment) vs. bench testing for mechanism or engineering validation.

              This work is just as valid as bench testing. The data, while not perfect does show correlation that contradicts what many have been told. It contradicts manufacturer claims as to added safety.

              Comment


                #47
                Originally posted by RAyers View Post
                O and O,

                You are asking for a different animal. The equivalent is car accident statistics, e.g. texting and driving leads to an increase in accidents (there never was a controlled laboratory experiment) vs. bench testing for mechanism or engineering validation.

                This work is just as valid as bench testing. The data, while not perfect does show correlation that contradicts what many have been told. It contradicts manufacturer claims as to added safety.
                Right. I need to know the bench testing results first. Then the other. Just imo.

                Or we give them all a pass due to the ASTM ratings, and the Beta ratings ... but where are the air vests on those scales? and what about the vests that aren't ASTM rated?

                The imperfect data does show something, and hopefully it will spur manufacturers to add more data and maybe more testing to their current claims. But the collection of the FEI data will leave it open to questions. That erodes public confidence in what it has to say. What people think of the results does matter because it influences what they do. Thorough testing would go a long way to answering questions in a way that is perceived as more valid rightly or wrongly. Perception matters to the decisions people make.

                Comment


                  #48
                  Originally posted by RAyers View Post
                  You are asking for a different animal. The equivalent is car accident statistics, e.g. texting and driving leads to an increase in accidents (there never was a controlled laboratory experiment) vs. bench testing for mechanism or engineering validation.
                  Off topic, but yes, there are plenty of controlled experiments on texting and driving. A lot are done in simulators but some are done in real cars (test tracks, closed roads, dual-control vehicles, etc.)

                  Everyone else has covered the on-topic points I would have made. The research reveals an association, but we don't know how robust it is because there was no standard definition of injury severity. There are plenty of options for future research: a similar study with more rigorous data collection (e.g. formal injury scores), or experiments with crash test dummies or to test the risk compensation hypothesis someone mentioned.

                  Comment


                    #49
                    Originally posted by RAyers View Post

                    It is clear that they only looked at comparative data. That means they don't simply just take random numbers. It is clear in the Mat and Meth that they used data taken from roughly a "paired" cohort where riders on the same XC courses fell and either were wearing an air vest or not. The data is clearly labeled as obtained from Reference 4 which is the FEI public database for falls on XC at competitions. The FEI does not collect data on stadium or dressage falls therefore it is all XC where protective gear is required.

                    Thus, this is a direct comparison of wearing an air vest versus no air vest on XC.
                    This isn't my field of research, so I don't have a lot of experience with studies of this nature, but I found it clear until I read the discussion and the statement of collecting fall data from across disciplines. However if the authors are not equestrians I can see how they misused the word "disciplines" and meant something like level.


                    Interesting study, I just think it needs more info. Step in the right direction for sure.It does make me wonder if wearing an air vest affects what type of body protector they wear underneath.

                    I want to see some work on MIPS technology in riding helmets next but I know that would be a long way off.
                    ************************
                    "I can't help but wonder,what would Jimmy Buffett do?"

                    https://falllinefarmblog.wordpress.com/

                    Comment

                      Original Poster

                      #50
                      A question for all those reading. Based on all the information we have available on these vests, do you or would you feel comfortable using these vests, knowing fully there is no research on their actual safety influence? If so, why?
                      Boss Mare Eventing Blog

                      Comment


                        #51
                        Originally posted by Jealoushe View Post
                        A question for all those reading. Based on all the information we have available on these vests, do you or would you feel comfortable using these vests, knowing fully there is no research on their actual safety influence? If so, why?
                        Nope.

                        Comment


                          #52
                          Originally posted by OverandOnward View Post

                          Right. I need to know the bench testing results first. Then the other. Just imo.

                          Or we give them all a pass due to the ASTM ratings, and the Beta ratings ... but where are the air vests on those scales? and what about the vests that aren't ASTM rated?

                          The imperfect data does show something, and hopefully it will spur manufacturers to add more data and maybe more testing to their current claims. But the collection of the FEI data will leave it open to questions. That erodes public confidence in what it has to say. What people think of the results does matter because it influences what they do. Thorough testing would go a long way to answering questions in a way that is perceived as more valid rightly or wrongly. Perception matters to the decisions people make.
                          As a voting member of ASTM, I can tell you that in all the standards with which I am involved, there is a clear statement that declares that this testing is not indicative of real world performance. The same goes with ISO standards. They are only intended as MINIMAL performance in a lab environment.

                          The standards come about AFTER real world outcomes measures such as done in the air vest study. You can't do bench testing without knowing what issue it is that you really want to address.

                          I agree with your sentiment. But no company in the vest world has the money to do the testing, and without specific regulation saying such testing must be done, it will never happen. I see this all the time in medical product liability cases. Only the largest corporations seem to go beyond the standards to improve their products while most companies just meet the standard and then litigate.

                          Comment


                            #53
                            Originally posted by Jealoushe View Post
                            A question for all those reading. Based on all the information we have available on these vests, do you or would you feel comfortable using these vests, knowing fully there is no research on their actual safety influence? If so, why?

                            I don't know that I would say that I "know fully there is no research on their actual safety influence." As a social scientist, the data in the paper discussed here don't convince me of anything. I like the idea of having a pillow around my back/torso if I were to fall off. I have friends who have said it feels way less painful when you fall wearing an air vest. My horse is tall. I'm getting older and less rubbery. I don't have an air vest, but I am considering getting one in the next year.

                            Comment

                              Original Poster

                              #54
                              Originally posted by cour10ay View Post


                              I don't know that I would say that I "know fully there is no research on their actual safety influence." As a social scientist, the data in the paper discussed here don't convince me of anything. I like the idea of having a pillow around my back/torso if I were to fall off. I have friends who have said it feels way less painful when you fall wearing an air vest. My horse is tall. I'm getting older and less rubbery. I don't have an air vest, but I am considering getting one in the next year.
                              I don't quite understand your reply. Are you saying there IS research on air vests? Or you are meaning, anecdotal stories of those who have used them? Can you clarify?

                              If this paper doesn't convince you of anything (I don't think it is meant to, I think it is meant to say the data is intriguing and needs exploring), I am interested to know why people choose to continue to support air vests even though there is no evidence they increase safety, whatsoever.

                              I find it very interesting, from a behavioural standpoint, which is why I would love to hear why riders still choose to wear it.

                              It seems some people will continue to do what they want, regardless of whether or not there is an actual benefit, because they have convinced themselves there is, based on whats popular, and pushed by the sport.
                              Boss Mare Eventing Blog

                              Comment


                                #55
                                I wear an air vest because they are can be as protective compared to the hard shell vest and better than no protection at all. An advantage is that they are cooler as they don't have to be snug up against your body. There is a standard put out by SATRA, M38, that covers air vests for general equestrians. I have no way of evaluating if the M38 standard is useful or not, but at least we have a start.

                                Comment


                                  #56
                                  Hypothetically... just wondering out of curiousity - how feasible and useful might it be to expand on this current FEI dataset by doing a multicentre retrospective chart review of the cases of serious/fatal injury resulting from falls, in order to apply more standardization and granularity to the classification of injury? Presumably the FEI would have the necessary identifiable data (or maybe not), and the reporting event would have a record of the healthcare centre to which the competitor was taken (or maybe not). I'm sure the ethics approval process would be a complete nightmare and probably not possible at all since you'd need personal identifiers + health records data and wouldn't have consent, and not all serious/fatal injury cases may have had an admission. Perhaps it wouldn't be worth it at all - statistical analysis is certainly not my strong suit. Just wondering if there might be ways to build on the existing data set.

                                  Comment


                                    #57
                                    This article is about a 2012 demonstration of air vests at the USEA convention.
                                    https://eventingnation.com/emsa-air-vest-presentations-from-point-two-and-hit-air/

                                    It sounds as if there is some sort of test data out there. However, it doesn't seem to be on the Point Two website, and I can't imagine why they wouldn't include it if they had it.


                                    Originally posted by BayAreaRider View Post
                                    I wear an air vest because they are can be as protective compared to the hard shell vest and better than no protection at all. An advantage is that they are cooler as they don't have to be snug up against your body. There is a standard put out by SATRA, M38, that covers air vests for general equestrians. I have no way of evaluating if the M38 standard is useful or not, but at least we have a start.
                                    It sounds as if you are wearing only the air vest, and are not wearing a standard safety vest underneath the air vest. At least one air vest distributor does say that the air vest can be used with or without a standard safety vest. (The only one I looked at.)

                                    As I understand it, under the USEF/USEA Eventing Rules, isn't the regular vest required, with or without the air vest? I was under the impression that, under the rules, the air vest was an extra layer of protection. Not the only layer. Re eventing rules. Is that right?

                                    I do know of non-eventers who are wearing just the air vest. I wonder about the level of difference in protection with and without the regular vest. I'm sure two vests are safer, but I wonder if it is enough safer to make the extra expense and wardrobe desirable.

                                    Comment


                                      #58
                                      Originally posted by RAyers View Post

                                      ........... Only the largest corporations seem to go beyond the standards to improve their products while most companies just meet the standard and then litigate.
                                      Hadn't thought about litigation. I wonder if that is a possibility with air vests. Sometimes people seem to read their ideal expectations into a product, and express shock when the product doesn't meet that standard.


                                      Originally posted by Jealoushe View Post

                                      I don't quite understand your reply. Are you saying there IS research on air vests? Or you are meaning, anecdotal stories of those who have used them? Can you clarify?

                                      If this paper doesn't convince you of anything (I don't think it is meant to, I think it is meant to say the data is intriguing and needs exploring), I am interested to know why people choose to continue to support air vests even though there is no evidence they increase safety, whatsoever.

                                      I find it very interesting, from a behavioural standpoint, which is why I would love to hear why riders still choose to wear it.

                                      It seems some people will continue to do what they want, regardless of whether or not there is an actual benefit, because they have convinced themselves there is, based on whats popular, and pushed by the sport.
                                      I think that people, particular ammys & juniors who are not at the highest levels, wear the air vest for three reasons. None of these reasons are based on science. But they are all based on how people believe what they want to believe.

                                      1) Unsolicited testimonials from high-profile ULR's in media interviews. Several ULR's have asserted in interviews that they believe an air vest saved them from serious injury or worse. These are powerful testimonials from people whose advice is closely heeded by the eventing masses, even if such statements aren't supported by a lick of scientific evidence. Air vests took off among non-pros in 2010 after Oliver Townend made that claim after his crashing fall with his horse at Rolex Kentucky 4* . His voice resonated more than others because of the widespread visibility and coverage of the incident.

                                      2) People correlate air vests with car air bags, and they are rightly convinced of the benefits of car air bags. That belief is supported by the federal law that mandates car air bags. So, people tend to think that therefore other applications of air bags must be just as effective. It's possible that car air bags and air vests don't have much in common, but the public misses the fine points.

                                      3) The most powerful motivator of all - because people like the concept of the air vest, they want to think it's true. Nothing is a stronger incentive to buy into something than the wish that it is so.

                                      That's why I think people are spending hundreds of dollars on air vests, in spite of the very thin science behind it.

                                      There isn't much science behind a great deal of what we do, in life and with our horses. Maybe our non-science-based choices are often valid and worthwhile. We go with observed evidence and anecdotal evidence for everything from fly spray to equine chiro. Because there is no way to scientifically test everything. Part of being a functional human being is making such judgments based on our own common sense. Maybe we get it right more than we get it wrong.

                                      Comment


                                        #59
                                        Originally posted by Jealoushe View Post
                                        A question for all those reading. Based on all the information we have available on these vests, do you or would you feel comfortable using these vests, knowing fully there is no research on their actual safety influence? If so, why?
                                        Oh hell no. I ride a spooky horse. I jump when my float coat (similar to air vest because cartridge activated by string but used for people working on the flight deck of an aircraft carrier) gets inflated because my coworker thinks it’s funny. She most certainly would make the fall worse when she hears the cartridge actuate. I’d rather the EXO come back.
                                        Don't try this at home.

                                        Comment

                                          Original Poster

                                          #60
                                          Enjoying the replies, thanks.
                                          Boss Mare Eventing Blog

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