A New Assessment of Bicycle Helmets: The Brain Injury Mitigation Effects of New Technologies in Oblique Impacts
Journal article, 2021
New helmet technologies have been developed to improve the mitigation of traumatic brain injury (TBI) in bicycle accidents. However, their effectiveness under oblique impacts, which produce more strains in the brain in comparison with vertical impacts adopted by helmet standards, is still unclear. Here we used a new method to assess the brain injury prevention effects of 27 bicycle helmets in oblique impacts, including helmets fitted with a friction-reducing layer (MIPS), a shearing pad (SPIN), a wavy cellular liner (WaveCel), an airbag helmet (Hövding) and a number of conventional helmets. We tested whether helmets fitted with the new technologies can provide better brain protection than conventional helmets. Each helmeted headform was dropped onto a 45° inclined anvil at 6.3 m/s at three locations, with each impact location producing a dominant head rotation about one anatomical axes of the head. A detailed computational model of TBI was used to determine strain distribution across the brain and in key anatomical regions, the corpus callosum and sulci. Our results show that, in comparison with conventional helmets, the majority of helmets incorporating new technologies significantly reduced peak rotational acceleration and velocity and maximal strain in corpus callosum and sulci. Only one helmet with MIPS significantly increased strain in the corpus collosum. The helmets fitted with MIPS and WaveCel were more effective in reducing strain in impacts producing sagittal rotations and a helmet fitted with SPIN in coronal rotations. The airbag helmet was effective in reducing brain strain in all impacts, however, peak rotational velocity and brain strain heavily depended on the analysis time. These results suggest that incorporating different impact locations in future oblique impact test methods and designing helmet technologies for the mitigation of head rotation in different planes are key to reducing brain injuries in bicycle accidents.
Traumatic brain injury