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  1. #1
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    With all of the concussion and helmet talk out there...

    With all of the concussion and helmet talk out there, whether it be in skiing, football, hockey, soccer, etc, etc...

    Why are there not better helmet options?

    (If you do not believe in wearing helmets, this convo might not be for you. If you do, and are looking for better protection, read on.)

    Hear me out on this one. I think I may be asking a question and opening a conversation that hasn't been had here yet in this form.

    I've read a bunch of helmet threads here on TGR, read articles about head injuries, done a decent amount of research on technologies (probably not as much of an expert as some others here), and listened to a lot of opinions on helmets effectiveness and one's expectations regarding the safety level that can be achieved.... and I guess that is my biggest gripe.

    Why hasn't a safer helmet been achieved?

    Is it due to the inherent fragility of the human head/brain? Is it due to material limitations? Is it due to limitations that one's perceptions of what is reasonable (weight, vanity, cost, etc)?

    Of some other threads I've read recently (the Hip-Tec marketer dude's included), it seems that companies are 'trying' to produce better helmets, note Sweet, POC, Riddell, Schutt, etc - but aren't necessarily succeeding in concussion reduction. Here are some recent TGR threads for reference, if you are really interested.
    https://www.tetongravity.com/forums/s...et-Demand-More
    https://www.tetongravity.com/forums/s...hlight=helmets
    https://www.tetongravity.com/forums/s...hlight=helmets

    My concern is more in relation to concussions and less to do with tissue trauma and/or cracked skulls, because I think most helmets will help from the trauma standpoint. That said, if we have an idea of what the concussion level threshold is near - say 60g's and 3800r/s^2 on the low end for head on and oblique respectively, can't we target these numbers (or even lower if necessary) to remove the 'inherent fragility of the human head' from the equation? Thus we can focus on creating the best helmet from a materials/construction standpoint to reach those levels. Anything short of that is insufficient.

    There is alot of talk about EPP vs EPS in ski/bike helmets... but it seems that helmet construction in this market is relegated to those two materials for the most part. Why is that? Why not use technology from the football industry or automotive industry and use that in concert with EPP or EPS? What about VPD, or some of the new Smith and POC honeycomb weaves (Supracore)? I guess my confusion stems from very little (to date) combination of these materials in the market.

    It looks like POC is definitely starting down this path - more complex combinations of materials and constructions - which is interesting and encouraging if you really dig into some of the combinations of materials they are doing, but still it seems convoluted. Some helmets get this... some get that. I can understand if it is a price point thing, they still need to accommodate a low end helmet, but it doesn't seem like ANY manufacturer or industry is making something that is the 'best of the best'. Granted it would be at a high price point - but at least to have the option would be interesting.

    If that would happen - and data was shown on the effectiveness of a very expensive type helmet (concussion-resistant, if you will) - people would eventually recognize it, especially considering the mainstream media attention concussions are getting. From a financial standpoint, in time volume will come and allow prices to fall. Instead of making 25 different helmets, why not 3 or 4 of the safest...?

    Some kind of crazy combo would be interesting... carbon shell, a thin EPS layer, MIPS layer, EPP layer, low density foam or VPD or air liner for fit. Something that untilizes all of the latest and greatest tech advances to see if a super low force can be achieved... then go from there.

    Any ideas for combos? Or why an ultra combo helmet wouldn't work...? Curious to hear people's thoughts.

    Perhaps a new startup.... perhaps a pipedream.

    P.S. I think it should demanded from helmet manufacturers to show the helmet structure cross sections and interior. It seems pretty hocus-pocus to put little info; maybe a couple of bullet points about the 'great' safety features that a helmet has. Most won't read it, but for those interested, info and data should be there when it comes to something like this. FWIW, there is more information out there on ski construction than there is on helmet construction.

  2. #2
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    we have some experience with this in our house - my wife had a bad concussion wearing a Smith Variant Brim last spring - long recovery - still really not 100%

    our 7 year old wears POC, and we will be too this season - agreed, though that you can't find the "ultimate" combination of safe design and materials - I'm encouraged by the fact that POC has been bought by BD - I think that they have a great opportunity at actually doing something with ski/bike/climbing helmets


    http://www.pocsports.com/en/product/...ckcountry-mips
    Click image for larger version. 

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  3. #3
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    Quick answer is that going from high speed to low speed takes either high acceleration or lots of time=distance. Hope for a glancing blow if you don't want a concussion preventing helmet; which will look like Gary's:

    http://www.nbc.com/saturday-night-li...ey-ad/1353337/

  4. #4
    Hugh Conway Guest
    It's really simple: because the helmet purchasing market doesn't care. Look at helmet threads where the priorities are: 1) looking cool 2) venting 3) brand.

    without some independent org doing the testing/verification of claims I'm (cynically, shocker) going to suggest that there won't be much progress. Not that that's the holy be all end all of safety, just that such claims are harder to massage than more marketing oriented stuff (for marketing oriented "safety" all of oakley's glasses crap)

  5. #5
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    so this is a "why are there not better helmets?" thread ?

    as opposed to a " should we wear helmets or not?" thread ?
    Lee Lau - xxx-er is the laziest Asian canuck I know

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by telemike View Post
    I'm encouraged by the fact that POC has been bought by BD - I think that they have a great opportunity at actually doing something with ski/bike/climbing helmets
    Yeah - I'm hoping a bit more coin can generate some unique designs moving forward. I like the backcountry MIPS definitely - seemingly 'best' protection option.

    Quote Originally Posted by jono View Post
    Quick answer is that going from high speed to low speed takes either high acceleration or lots of time=distance.
    Right - I suppose this is the biggest limiting factor. My thought is that with materials like EPS, you are not utilizing the thickness of the helmet (distance). Think of smooth riding cars, low G's, progressive suspension. Progressive padding... utilizing the full thickness. I know it's never going to be perfect... but again, targeting the threshold.

    Quote Originally Posted by Hugh Conway View Post
    It's really simple: because the helmet purchasing market doesn't care. Look at helmet threads where the priorities are: 1) looking cool 2) venting 3) brand.
    I completely agree that is part of the problem. I guess I'm tossing the idea/hope out there, that someone, somewhere should have a revelation and say... "you know what, there are 10-20 guys out there making pretty, flashy, cool, helmets. Maybe we should try to make the 'best' and screw aesthetics being the #1 goal."

    Quote Originally Posted by XXX-er View Post
    so this is a "why are there not better helmets?" thread ?
    as opposed to a " should we wear helmets or not?" thread ?
    ...whatever makes you happy...?

  7. #7
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    Concur on the Smith. Rang my bell pretty good and got myself a concussion with one a few years ago that I do not think I would have had with the POC I was previously wearing. Back to the POC now.

    Then there's the avy bag for the head:

    http://www.fastcodesign.com/1670580/...urce=twitter#1

  8. #8
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    Say you're going at 20m/s (72km/h, realistic speed I'd say, and it makes the calculation easier), you hit something and slow down to zero.

    Assuming the retardation is linear, you're moving at an average speed of 10m/s. Say your helmet has 3cm of "crumple zone", this means you'll go from 20m/s to 0m/s in 0,003s, or an acceleration of roughly 666gs.

    I know the numbers are a bit high, but even if you halve the speed and double the length of the crumple zone, it'll still be more than 80gs.

    The only way to really improve the values is to make the helmets thicker or ski really slow. The airbag helmet is a very cool concept, maybe that combined with a shell? Potential crumple zone of 10-15cm?
    simen@downskis.com DOWN SKIS

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by SiSt View Post
    Assuming the retardation is linear

    Can you readjust your numbers to more of a Tangential retardation function?

    That would seem more akin to the actual experience of hitting your head on snow/ice.

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    It would great to see a non profit test and rate helmets, so consumers can make informed decisions and hopefully put pressure on the industry to make safety a worthy feature..... possibly leading to the development of an industry standard.

    But even if they did, there are still the Rog's of the world who think helmets (unless made of tinfoil) are a conspiracy. and since we are talking injury prevention, the first battle is just getting lids on peoples heads.

    I also received a very signification concussion, while mountain biking, despite wearing a very well fitting helmet built to CSA standard for moto. Without it I probably would have died. However, it would have been nice to avoid the months of post concussion syndrome that followed.
    "Its not the arrow, its the Indian" - M.Pinto

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by DeathVan View Post
    Can you readjust your numbers to more of a Tangential retardation function?

    That would seem more akin to the actual experience of hitting your head on snow/ice.
    Any change from linear makes the acceleration higher. It also means I can't do the math in my head... Ballpark is OK at this level anyway.
    simen@downskis.com DOWN SKIS

  12. #12
    Hugh Conway Guest
    Quote Originally Posted by cmcrawfo View Post
    It would great to see a non profit test and rate helmets, so consumers can make informed decisions and hopefully put pressure on the industry to make safety a worthy feature..... possibly leading to the development of an industry standard.
    well, there is a non-profit doing that, standards haven't changed much. Bike helmets are worse.

  13. #13
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    Was just reading this this morining. http://www.outsideonline.com/fitness...the-Crash.html
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  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by SiSt View Post
    Say you're going at 20m/s (72km/h, realistic speed I'd say, and it makes the calculation easier), you hit something and slow down to zero.

    Assuming the retardation is linear, you're moving at an average speed of 10m/s. Say your helmet has 3cm of "crumple zone", this means you'll go from 20m/s to 0m/s in 0,003s, or an acceleration of roughly 666gs.

    I know the numbers are a bit high, but even if you halve the speed and double the length of the crumple zone, it'll still be more than 80gs.

    The only way to really improve the values is to make the helmets thicker or ski really slow. The airbag helmet is a very cool concept, maybe that combined with a shell? Potential crumple zone of 10-15cm?
    I agree. Until some technology learns how to decelerate the brain more slowly INSIDE of the skull, no helmet is going to protect that jello in your head from sloshing around when your body starfishes a tree.
    First 360 mute grab --> Andrew Sheppard --> Snowdrifters 1996

  15. #15
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    No helmet can prevent all concussions. I don't care which brand or model, smith POC Giro, or other, doesn't matter.

    This is due to the deceleration forces at work. Many times it is not the actual Impact of the skull hitting something , but instead it is the inertia of the brain as it continues to Move within the skull. Basically the head stops suddenly and the brain continues to travel inside striking the skull. Shaken baby syndrome is a prefect example of this. These abused babies die of head trauma even though their head never actually struck anything. While this may not be exactly the same in adults the mechanism if injury is similar.

    Head on impact may be less problematic than impacts that have rotational forces. The rotational forces cause shearing forces on individual axons within the brain.

    The way I see it if you can't slow the head down within the helmet then there is a real problem, redesigned padding or not.

    Using some combo of materials might help but not to any great degree if we continue to ski fast, in trees, in parks and over cliffs. At the speeds we are skiing and heights we are landing from helmets will continue to fail to protect against concussion even with redesigned padding.

    In sports we can change behavior with rule changes, which we are seeing. But in skiing this is more difficult. How do you change behavior in people when there are no real rules? Especially now when helmets may even cause people to ski faster and take greater risk? Education is the only real means here.

    I'm not anti-helmet. I've worn one for a decade now. I'm just not convinced that helmet design can stop concussions. Can they reduce incidence? Recent Research on football helmets says no even with current models that are claiming to be better at preventing concussion.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vinman View Post
    In sports we can change behavior with rule changes, which we are seeing. But in skiing this is more difficult. How do you change behavior in people when there are no real rules? Especially now when helmets may even cause people to ski faster and take greater risk? Education is the only real means here.
    Outlaw rocker, skis wider than 70mm at any point and skis longer than 170cm? Tons of camber is compulsory.
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  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by SiSt View Post
    The only way to really improve the values is to make the helmets thicker or ski really slow. The airbag helmet is a very cool concept, maybe that combined with a shell? Potential crumple zone of 10-15cm?
    Quote Originally Posted by DeathVan View Post
    Can you readjust your numbers to more of a Tangential retardation function?
    That would seem more akin to the actual experience of hitting your head on snow/ice.
    I think... as linear of a deceleration as possible is the ideal solution for alot of things... maybe not in this instance....? (thinking in my head... but maybe not for brains inside a fluid filled skull...?)

    SiSt - your quick math was better than what I was willing to do... thanks for that.

    DeathVan - to your point... maybe there is some level of 'give and take' though. For instance - could you have a moderate decel over, let's say the first third of the period of impact. A SLOW decel over of the next third, and then a moderate decel over the last third. Maybe it would allow the brain to more slowly position itself concentric to the skull for a distributed load instead of a point load with a FAST decel over a short period of impact.

    IP rights if I'm right - just saying.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by gointhedistance View Post
    I think... as linear of a deceleration as possible is the ideal solution for alot of things... maybe not in this instance....? (thinking in my head... but maybe not for brains inside a fluid filled skull...?)
    It would represent the average value of any given deceleration.

    Don't know if another distribution would be better for the brain, I'm just a dentist.
    simen@downskis.com DOWN SKIS

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by SiSt View Post
    It would represent the average value of any given deceleration.

    Don't know if another distribution would be better for the brain, I'm just a dentist.
    True. But isn't what really matters the peak of the brain. Not the average of the skull.

    So perhaps SiSt is right... a parabolic G curve would allow the brain to most slowly initiate contact with the skull wall and gradually slow as much as possible before reaching peak G.

    Maybe we are just saying stuff that the helmet manufacturers already know... but is so... WHY YOU NO MAKE GOOD HELMETS FOR THIS?

    ^^Sorry for yelling - it's the concussions talking.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vinman View Post

    I'm not anti-helmet. I've worn one for a decade now. I'm just not convinced that helmet design can stop concussions. Can they reduce incidence? Recent Research on football helmets says no even with current models that are claiming to be better at preventing concussion.
    Install a Zorb ball for the brain inside the skull.

    I wear a helmet too. It mainly guards against gapers carrying their skis incorrectly and it helps keep my goggles from fogging if I need to put them on my head.
    First 360 mute grab --> Andrew Sheppard --> Snowdrifters 1996

  21. #21
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    Linear deceleration is as good as it gets for a given change in speed, but a tangential bounce off the snow reduces the total change in speed vs. a full stop straight into a tree. Not sure which was intended when talking about adjusting the math, but thought that worth clarifying. To refine it a hair, the lowest concussion acceleration could be 15-20 g's, and I don't think you can expect survival above about 80 sustained. IndyCar reported a spike over 100 a long time ago but it was ridiculously brief, not milliseconds, and the accelerometer wasn't helmet mounted AFAIK, so real value at the helmet was certain to be lower. Driver survived, can't imagine it was without a concussion, though.

    Anyway, if you're willing to live with 10m/s impacts you'd need ~12 cm of linear deceleration with no bounce back to stay in that survivable area, say 40 cm (?) to avoid a concussion. Bounce back at 5 m/s the other way and you might as well have hit at 15. So the helmet needs to permanently deform on impact or you need to use 2-3 times as much thickness. At what point does your giant helmet start causing neck injuries or even avoidable head injuries because it hits stuff your head would have missed? I know that starts to be rog's argument with ANY helmet, but realistically you would have to address that if you're going to start selling Gary Busey's helmet protector protector for actual use.

  22. #22
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    Speed event rated helmets are available now and while far from perfect are probably marginally better than the average ski helmet. If the vast majority of helmet wearers aren't paying the price to wear one, how likely will they be to pay even more for an effective helmet, if one could be invented?
    Most people, including me, figure wearing a lousy helmet is better than nothing, just like most of us "environmentalists" figure we're doing our part by recycling and changing light bulbs.

  23. #23
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    I know it does not help now, but from what I understand a company by the name of 6d is going to make helmets soon.
    With my dirtbike crash, I got to test it at the extreme, and to my eye would work perfect for slow speed crashes too. I told the guy they could make a fortune in snow helmets.
    He said they were going to bike helmets, then snow..It will work, if they can get the weight down, which I think they can.
    I told him to let me know, and I would be the first to buy
    http://www.6dhelmets.com/
    Watch this vid, he raced the b main after, which is the reason I bought one. I have no affiliation. My wreck was as bad, if not worse than this.
    I think the technology can be used for a light ski helmet. We will see

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by jono View Post
    ... say 40 cm (?) to avoid a concussion. ...
    this is the answer. there is no need to get all cynical about fashion or branding, it is simply NOT FEASIBLE to wear a 40cm thick helmet.
    ... jfost is really ignorant, he often just needs simple facts laid out for him...

  25. #25
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    First time too subtle? I guess some people don't remember Phil Hartman. RIP.

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