Helmets have been getting some confusing reviews lately, as contact-sports and the concussions associated with them are getting more press coverage and researchers are looking everywhere for ways to prevent those brain injuries.
Many studies have shown that football helmets are actually not able to protect against the traumatic brain injuries many claim they can, which has led writers to state that they can’t protect the brain, but that isn’t the whole truth. It is true that the football helmets being used today are not capable of “preventing” concussions, but that doesn’t mean they don’t protect your brain.
Football is a brutal sport, which involves repeated collisions sometimes directly to the head. Players practice to be able to provide the heaviest hits they can, and they put on muscle mass to make themselves human battering rams. The fact is, helmets just can’t handle the damage these men learn to put out.
However, without helmets, these men would be at exponentially greater risk for brain injury. Helmets can absolutely protect against brain injury, they just aren’t capable of “preventing” brain injury.
A recent Australian study published in Traffic Injury Prevention supports this, and reminds everyone how important wearing a helmet while cycling can be.
Cycling is the largest contributor to sports-related concussions, due to its ubiquitous place in city life, transportation, relaxation, as well as competitive sporting. Unfortunately, with how common place riding a bicycle is, many regularly forget their helmets.
The Australian study showed that bicycle helmets significantly reduced the number of head, skull, and brain injury. Crashes without a helmet were noted to create up to 9.5 times to force impact onto the head, increasing the head and brain injury, according to Science World Report.
“Our findings confirm that bicycle helmets certified to AS/NZS 2063 do indeed work as intended and are effective in reducing linear and angular head accelerations, as well as impact force,” said Dr. Andrew McIntosh, lead author of the study and associate professor at the University of New South Wales. “These results directly counter unsupported claims to the contrary by some anti-helmet cycling campaigners.”
The researchers rigged dummies up to a test rig where they were dropped from up to 1.5 meters creating a horizontal speed of up to 25 km/h (roughly 15.5 mph). The team then measured the angular and linear acceleration and impact force among other criteria.
According to the findings, an unprotected head risks high chances of concussion when dropped from even half a meter while being stationary. With more speed and height, the chances are even worse. However, even from higher speeds and heights, the helmeted head stayed within safe limits of impact force and acceleration.