Head injury is the leading cause of death for activities such as cycling and motor sports. The EU-funded HEADS project is aiming to reduce fatal head injuries by developing new criteria, testing methods and product certification for helmets.
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Head injury is a worst-case scenario and is a leading cause of death for accidents involving motorbikes, cycling, snow sports and horse-riding. The EU-funded HEADS project team aims to reach a new level of understanding of head impact injury and how head injury should be prevented. This will result in new and safer helmet standard test methods.
To date, linear acceleration or motion in a straight line has been used extensively to determine head injury risk; it has however become clear that brain injury is heavily influenced by angular kinematics, i.e. rotational motion. The scientific goal of the HEADS Network is to improve understanding of head impact injury by accounting for the influence of rotational kinematics. This will result in improved and more effective helmets.
The HEADS training network will use computational simulations of real-life accident reconstructions to enable researchers to generate realistic injury thresholds. This will inform future helmet standards in cycling, motorcycling, snow and equestrian sports. The approach will be complemented with an investigation into injury thresholds using precise biomechanical modelling of the human anatomy.
The team is placing a specific focus on body parts, such as the head and neck, as well as the stresses and strains incurred by brain tissue. This will help the identification of adequate head injury criteria for use in the design of new helmet certification tests, including pass/fail safety thresholds.