- Title: Airbag bicycle helmets may be safer than conventional foam versions
- Date: 2nd November 2016
- Summary: PALO ALTO CALIFORNIA, UNITED STATES (RECENT) (REUTERS) BIOENGINEER MEHMET KURT TESTING AIRBAG HELMET IN DROP TEST
- Embargoed: 17th November 2016 18:13
- Keywords: helmet bicycle helmet safety brain injury consussion airbag helmet inflatable helmet
- Location: PALO ALTO, CALIFORNIA, UNITED STATES, PARIS, FRANCE, LINKOPING AND MALMO, SWEDEN
- City: PALO ALTO, CALIFORNIA, UNITED STATES, PARIS, FRANCE, LINKOPING AND MALMO, SWEDEN
- Country: USA
- Topics: Science
- Reuters ID: LVA00156R6Q1N
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Two sets of test dummies, one wearing a standard bicycle helmet and the other wearing a model which worn around the neck and inflates like an airbag when it senses a collision, were dropped from varying heights in lab to simulate bicycle accidents.
"We did exactly that test with a bicycle helmet versus an airbag helmet at the right pressure and you can get a five-fold reduction in the level of linear accelerations," said Stanford University bioengineer Mehmet Kurt, one of the researchers conducting the study.
Conventional helmets, according to Kurt, are designed to protect the head against skull fractures, but don't protect well against brain injuries such as concussion, which can occur when neurons in the brain stretch due to acceleration forces sustained during an accident.
Airbag helmets, which are currently available for sale in parts of Europe, did well in protecting the brain from impact force but are potentially risky if they fail to deploy properly.
"You can actually be at more risk of injury compared to a standard helmet," said Kurt.
If the airbag is late to deploy the amount of pressure may not be sufficient to keep the head from making contact with the ground.
Swedish company Hovding which makes the airbag helmet used in the Stanford study says the technology in their helmets has been fully tested and safe.
Kurt argues that even if the technology poses potential risks, they offer people who would otherwise shy away from using a helmet an alternative.
"There is a huge compliance issue. There are studies that show that especially in the pediatrics population the biggest problem is the self-image problem," said Kurt.
Inflatable helmets cannot be sold in the United States due to current federal regulations.
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