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Questions raised as sport helmet specialists unveil new ranking system for using hats


  • A scores system designed to enrich present security requirements and fill the gaps referring to concussion dangers has been cautiously welcomed – and questioned – with specialists advising riders to take a look at the entire image when selecting a using helmet.

    The Virginia Tech Helmet Lab, which has been ranking helmets for various sports activities since 2011, has launched its first STAR (Summation of Assessments for the Evaluation of Threat) analysis system for equestrian sport.

    The main focus is on assessing which helmets greatest cut back concussion danger, and the testing course of works by translating metrics from real-world head impacts into evidence-based take a look at strategies to evaluate efficiency underneath practical circumstances.

    A complete of 40 using helmets have been examined, and scores printed on-line this month. Two earned the highest rating of 5 stars, 11 earned 4, and the remainder three stars or beneath – and retail value was not essentially a mirrored image of efficiency underneath this method.

    “Requirements for equestrian helmets are sometimes based mostly on extreme impacts,” mentioned Stefan Duma, Helmet Lab founder and Virginia Tech’s Harry Wyatt professor of engineering. “What we discovered is that a whole lot of riders come off at decrease velocities, and lots of helmets are too stiff to successfully cushion these softer impacts. The helmets that carry out higher are capable of take care of completely different vitality ranges.”

    To develop the system, researchers analysed greater than 100 movies of rider falls. They measured the hardness of sand, filth, grass and artificial surfaces at equestrian occasions, and took tools, together with dummy heads, necks and pendulums, to Virginia Tech’s equestrian amenities to simulate falls.

    Knowledge was taken again to the lab to recreate falls in managed, quantitative exams, which used to evaluate the helmets.

    “With each sport, we undergo detailed evaluation to be sure that the biomechanics we’re testing relate particularly to these athletes,” mentioned Professor Duma.

    “For these scores, we decided what the acceleration profile would appear like for a rider falling on the bottom. Then we take that hint and convey it into the lab and recreate it, to ensure our testing matches what a rider would expertise in the event that they fell off a horse.”

    He mentioned “the actual key” is that the system “supplies a framework for producers to make higher helmets”.

    “They will take a look at our evaluation, recreate that testing, and optimise their helmet design to make the most effective helmet potential,” he mentioned.

    “That’s going to be higher for customers in addition to producers. In the end, we hope to cut back the variety of accidents.”

    The analysis was funded by non-public donors, led by Jacqueline Mars, plus the US Hunter Jumper Affiliation, US Equestrian (USEF) and US Eventing.

    The Champion Revolve X-Air MIPS helmet – the one Champion hat examined – topped the scores.

    “Champion has all the time been security first by way of our design, it’s our prime precedence,” Ben Hanna, manufacturing engineer at Champion Manufacturing Group, instructed H&H.

    “We’ve all the time been attempting to push to take care of the very best ranges. It reveals all the trouble we put in through the years has paid off.”

    He added that Champion knew Virginia Tech was engaged on a equestrian ranking system, however didn’t know which, if any, of its helmets had been examined.

    He mentioned the scores system offers attention-grabbing perception into how helmets that meet the highest requirements, designed to check for defense towards catastrophic, life-changing accidents, carry out in different conditions.

    “I feel it’s vital to know that the Virginia Tech STAR scores are particular to their take a look at, as any ranking system is,” he mentioned. You’ll be able to solely rating helmets towards what you’ve examined for, but it surely supplies that further layer of perception and when selecting a helmet, from a security standpoint, take a look at the entire image and never only one particular person take a look at.”

    He added: “So I feel for individuals who want to purchase a brand new hat and need to know find out how to interpret these outcomes, our place could be that the Virginia Tech STAR ranking is a helpful indicator of helmet efficiency.

    “If persons are on the lookout for the most secure helmet, they need to search for a well-fitting helmet that’s snug and that they’ll put on every single day. As a result of you might have the most secure helmet on the planet, but when it’s uncomfortable and also you don’t put on it, it’s not going to do any good.

    “You need it to be rated to [an approved standard] like PAS 015 or the most recent SNELL normal. And I’d positively assist the movement that it is best to get a MIPS hat, as a result of it provides that further layer of safety. Then take a look at the Virginia Tech STAR scores.”

    Different trade figures have additionally welcomed the analysis – whereas elevating questions in regards to the system.

    MIPS, the multi-directional affect safety system, which is included in sure helmets and meant to assist cut back dangerous rotational movement, “welcome the brand new benchmark […] but points of the take a look at and ranking strategies go away room for enchancment”.

    “Whereas we admire the brand new initiatives to guage equestrian helmets and promote helmet security extra typically, we at MIPS imagine that the brand new ranking programs could also be trigger for confusion,” mentioned the MIPS assertion.

    Producer Charles Owen, which had 4 helmets examined with various outcomes, additionally welcomed and questioned the system.

    “We admire the Virginia Tech findings in relation to low-velocity impacts. Nevertheless, it’s vital to spotlight the potential points in basing analysis strategies on social media movies of accidents,” mentioned an announcement from Charles Owen.

    “The three principal worldwide security requirements of VG1, PAS:015 and ASTM incorporate low-velocity impacts as seen on this examine, as these do play a job in on a regular basis accidents.

    “Nevertheless, there are additionally essential exams, equivalent to spike exams, rotational exams, crush exams and hazard edge exams that additionally have to be thought-about when evaluating helmet security.

    “These exams are peer-reviewed and developed over a few years by medical consultants, trade specialists and PhD researchers to copy main causes of rider head trauma and concussion.

    “We encourage all riders to make sure their helmets meet a minimal of three security requirements [PAS:015, VG1 and ASTM] as this ensures your helmet has been examined towards 9 completely different accident eventualities. As each rider will know, each accident is completely different within the ranges of drive, velocity and angle concerned.

    “The helmet examine by Virginia Tech focuses on only one potential reason for concussion. Whereas this may be helpful to simplify the science, we advocate that customers dig deeper to know the accepted trade requirements for themselves.”

    Responding to Charles Owen’s assertion, Barry Miller, the helmet lab’s director of outreach and enterprise improvement, instructed H&H the lab makes use of a “big selection of information sources”, which embody harm experiences from sporting organisations equivalent to USEF, the nationwide harm database, and extra.

    “However with out video footage, all of those strategies are nonetheless incomplete,” he mentioned.

    “There are greater than 50,000 [US] emergency room visits from equestrian accidents yearly, however few have video footage to corroborate the main points of the accident. The movies we’ve used are primarily from sanctioned equestrian occasions and lots of might have been posted to social media.

    “Whereas we’d not have the ability to use superior laptop analyses for every distinctive video, we are able to actually add them to a rising catalogue of rider falls.”

    He added that the lab welcomes movies from all sources to assist “perceive and quantify fall traits”.

    “Our STAR testing and strategies have been accepted by the Institute of Medication, one of many highest scientific our bodies within the nation,” he mentioned. “The STAR scores have additionally confirmed to assist producers enhance helmet designs [in other sports] that in flip decreased real-world concussions. We stay up for seeing these enhancements that take helmet security to the following degree.”

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