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Helmet Safety Comparison study

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  • Helmet Safety Comparison study

    Virginia Tech School of Biomedical Engineering does helmet safety comparison and publishes rating system:

    http://www.sbes.vt.edu/nid.php

    Too bad it is for football helmets not riding helmets.

    Schools and parents can now make informed decisions on how best to spend their money and I strongly suspect football helmet manufacturers are scrambling to improve their products and increase their scores in the next test.

    Maybe somebody, someday will get to equestrians. I still don't understand why the results of testing on riding helmets is pass/fail based on a 20 something year old standard and the relative results are kept secret from users/buyers

  • #2
    Originally posted by Mudroom View Post

    Maybe somebody, someday will get to equestrians. I still don't understand why the results of testing on riding helmets is pass/fail based on a 20 something year old standard and the relative results are kept secret from users/buyers


    Pass fail is based on the absolute measure of forces to the brain. Either it happens or it doesn't.

    The study you reference add a probability function based on repeated multiple impacts (Table for Exposure per Season). The probability shows up in part in the Arrhenius function in the risk equation as the variables are determined empirically. This makes sense for football helmets as you don't replace the helmet after each hit in a game. It uses the same ATSM testing methodology that you state is 20 years old.

    In equestrian helmets, so long as you don't fall or otherwise get struck in the head, the probability for the helmet to work goes back to the "yes" or "no" question.

    The standard itself is less than a YEAR old. Its last update was 2011. Standards are not static.

    Comment


    • #3
      I would be interested in knowing more about coverage and materials though. I love my more low profile helmet but it's always in the back of my mind that there are helmets out there that seem to cover more surface area. If I had to guess, I suspect mine covers the areas of likely impact with the ground or an object, but it would be nice to know what if any benefit would come from a "bigger" helmet.

      Comment


      • #4
        Someone should write them and see if they'd be interested in reviewing riding helmets too! Or write to the engineering department of some larger ag schools with good engineering departmenrs (PSU, etc.)
        ~Veronica
        "The Son Dee Times" "Sustained" "Somerset" "Franklin Square"
        http://photobucket.com/albums/y192/vxf111/

        Comment


        • #5
          someone DID do a comparative study of equestrian helmets, but it was some years ago (2003); the manufacturers of the helmets all made a fuss, and the authors of the study yanked it and never repeated it.
          Guess which helmets came out the safest? the cheapest Troxel models.


          "In the U.K. there was an effort to publish independent helmet testing under the Equestrian New Helmet Assessment Program (ENHAP). The initiative was spearheaded by the Mark Davies Injured Riders Fund (named after a rider who died at the Burghley Horse Trials) and managed by the Transport Research Laboratory which is experienced in the testing of hats and which developed a new helmet system for Formula 1 racing. The group spent two years developing its test protocols and then published its assessment of 55 helmets that were already approved by EN, BS, ASTM or SNELL. The ENHAP tests included impacts on flat, curved and sharp surfaces as well as crush and stability tests. Forty of the 55 helmets were rejected as being not safe enough.

          The results that were published in 2003 were widely disputed by the major helmet manufactures and the British Horse Association. They were never updated and the report was pulled from the MDIRF website. Incidentally, the US helmet manufacturer with the best scores was also the least expensive: Troxel."

          Comment


          • #6
            But maybe an academic institution would be less swayed by industry pressure?? I don't know...
            ~Veronica
            "The Son Dee Times" "Sustained" "Somerset" "Franklin Square"
            http://photobucket.com/albums/y192/vxf111/

            Comment


            • #7
              The issue is cost.

              To do a really scientifically relevant study I figure about $70,000 (1-graduate student full time 1 year -tuition, health, stipend-; equipment usage fees; supplies such as helmets).

              Additionally, one will need to decide what is the relative parameter that will be used to judge the differences between helmets. As mentioned, there is cost/impact resistance and number of impacts per relative force. How will the study judge whether one helmet is better than another?

              To try to do it as an undergraduate project for "free" will not yield the best results. I've tried.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by RAyers View Post
                ...one will need to decide what is the relative parameter that will be used to judge the differences between helmets. As mentioned, there is cost/impact resistance and number of impacts per relative force. How will the study judge whether one helmet is better than another?

                To try to do it as an undergraduate project for "free" will not yield the best results. I've tried.
                What parameter did you choose when you tried your "free" project?

                This is one of those things that I would gladly make a contribution to fund.

                I am interested in knowing what kind (shape? size?) of skull coverage provides the best protection for my brain bucket. I feel safest in a CO Pro skull cap because I think it covers the most surface area, but maybe there is something "better".
                ~ Horse Box Lovers Clique ~

                Comment


                • #9
                  I also think we (the collective "we") could do better than pass/fail, PARTICULARLY since one would generally hope that there is a substantial reason for a price of $400 for helmet "A" as opposed to $50 for helmet "B" if their safety profile is indeed equivalent!

                  I'd be willing to pay $400 for a helmet that is 8 times safer than the $50 model. Or even twice as safe.
                  Click here before you buy.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by rivenoak View Post
                    What parameter did you choose when you tried your "free" project?
                    My senior student projects have been on explosives processing and bone tissue scaffold synthesis so I am not sure if you are asking if I did helmet work. The parameters were chosen based on what I needed to know. Basically, I give the senior undergrads 1/100 of a Ph.D. to focus upon for a year. This year is load bearing stem cell scaffolds. The ultimate parameter is strength of cortical bone.

                    The one helmet investigation I have been part of is the result of legal issues due to injury. Tried to come up with a way to validate the foam testing accounting for pressure and temperature.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by deltawave View Post

                      I'd be willing to pay $400 for a helmet that is 8 times safer than the $50 model. Or even twice as safe.

                      But how does one judge relative safety? Is the child in a locked padded room safer than one playing in their bedroom? What is the specific measurement to be judged?

                      Is 8 times safer 8 times less brain force or 8 times less likely to have impact?

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by vxf111 View Post
                        Someone should write them and see if they'd be interested in reviewing riding helmets too! Or write to the engineering department of some larger ag schools with good engineering departmenrs (PSU, etc.)
                        Virginia Tech DOES have a large ag program-- they are one of 2 land-grant university in va (VSU is the other). did my undergrad in Animal/Equine Science there (ag), plus research & internship at Morven and the MARE Center(both ag-based).

                        they would be THE place- if ANY place would (other options, as you mentioned UPenn, but also A&M, U-Colorado)- esp b/c of the Virginia horse connection- plus the great engineering dept at VT.

                        just my experience with it and no, i don't have funds for the study. =)
                        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."

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by RAyers View Post
                          But how does one judge relative safety? Is the child in a locked padded room safer than one playing in their bedroom? What is the specific measurement to be judged?

                          Is 8 times safer 8 times less brain force or 8 times less likely to have impact?

                          Well, I am going on the assumption here that finer brains than mine could figure out SOME means of assessing relative safety of one helmet vs. another, whether with animal models, cadaver models, or computer models/crash test dummies. I am not going to use semantics and in-the-field jargon like you do because I would get it wrong. But I support, on principle, better and more comprehensive evaluation of helmets so that I can choose the one in my budget that is most likely to meaningfully protect me from TBI.
                          Click here before you buy.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            delta,

                            you do understand where I am coming from though? It is like asking if one drug is better than other for the same condition. It becomes relative to the situation.

                            The best comparison for helmets in our case is simply the maximum transference of energy to the skull/brain. And in that case it is simply "yes" or "no."

                            I am not saying relative comparisons can not be done but I am saying that while it may provide more information to the consumer, that information is going to be more nuanced than they may expect or understand.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              A quick way to make helmets safer? Make sure people wear them! Then make sure they fit. I see SO many people wearing helmets that move too much on their heads. If you constantly need to push up the brim because it's slipping down over your eyes, it doesn't fit.
                              Equine Ink - My soapbox for equestrian writings & reviews.
                              EquestrianHow2 - Operating instructions for your horse.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by RAyers View Post
                                My senior student projects have been on explosives processing and bone tissue scaffold synthesis so I am not sure if you are asking if I did helmet work. The parameters were chosen based on what I needed to know. Basically, I give the senior undergrads 1/100 of a Ph.D. to focus upon for a year. This year is load bearing stem cell scaffolds. The ultimate parameter is strength of cortical bone.

                                The one helmet investigation I have been part of is the result of legal issues due to injury. Tried to come up with a way to validate the foam testing accounting for pressure and temperature.
                                Sorry, I misread that perhaps you had tried a helmet study with the undergrads.

                                Can you talk about the helmet investigation you did do?

                                Was there a way to validate the testing, accounting for pressure & temp? And I won't ask this right, so hopefully you'll understand what I mean, but the temp being looked at was that temp to which the foam had (ever) been subjected or at the time of testing?

                                I ask the above because I always wonder if there is any effect on helmets used out here in the desert. I don't keep mine in hot vehicles, but they do stay in a tack room which does get hot during 120 F days.
                                ~ Horse Box Lovers Clique ~

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by wendy View Post
                                  someone DID do a comparative study of equestrian helmets, but it was some years ago (2003); the manufacturers of the helmets all made a fuss, and the authors of the study yanked it and never repeated it.
                                  Guess which helmets came out the safest? the cheapest Troxel models.
                                  This is actually not surprising.

                                  According to a presentation by one of the "high end" helmet makers, it is relativiely "easy" and "cheap" to make a bulky helmet that meets (and exceeds) the standard.

                                  It is much harder, and more expensive to make a "sleek" helmet that meets the standard.

                                  When you pay more for a sleek helmet you are paying for the fact that it is sleek, possibly at the expense of additional protection beyond the standard.
                                  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).

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    RAyers
                                    "My senior student projects have been on explosives processing and bone tissue scaffold synthesis so I am not sure if you are asking if I did helmet work. "

                                    One can wonder what these two topics have in common. Exploding helmets?

                                    Comment

                                    • Original Poster

                                      #19
                                      Originally posted by Janet View Post
                                      This is actually not surprising.

                                      According to a presentation by one of the "high end" helmet makers, it is relativiely "easy" and "cheap" to make a bulky helmet that meets (and exceeds) the standard.

                                      It is much harder, and more expensive to make a "sleek" helmet that meets the standard.

                                      When you pay more for a sleek helmet you are paying for the fact that it is sleek, possibly at the expense of additional protection beyond the standard.
                                      Speaking as someone who wears a skull cap style helmet for cross country and jump schooling - I didn't choose that style for looks. I chose it because I *perceive* that it offers some combination of greater coverage and greater protection. And obviously yes, I feel I ought to be "allowed" to see the relative data to find out if that is true.

                                      Like you said: Meets or exceeds. Why are we only allowed to know Meets: yes or no. I want to know what helmets exceed and I want to reward those innovative manufacturers with my $'s. What movie had the line "you can't handle the truth"? I am simply suggesting that the users/buyers of the saety devices be allowed access to the information, some will chose to review it some will not.

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        It all comes down to money. There is lots of funding for research on football helmets. It is a billion dollar industry and private grants are probably easily attainable.

                                        Not so in the equestrian disciplines. Our research on helmets, safety vests, and air vests is scant. We don't have the grant funding to support the university research.

                                        Comment

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