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Research Papers

The Effects of Helmet Weight on Hybrid III Head and Neck Responses by Comparing Unhelmeted and Helmeted Impacts

[+] Author and Article Information
Ron Jadischke

Department of Biomedical Engineering,
Wayne State University,
Detroit, MI 48201;
McCarthy Engineering Inc.,
Windsor, ON N9C 4E4, Canada
e-mail: rjadischke@mccarthyengineering.ca

David C. Viano

Department of Biomedical Engineering,
Wayne State University,
Detroit, MI 48201;
ProBiomechanics LLC,
Bloomfield Hills, MI 48304
e-mail: dviano@comcast.net

Joe McCarthy

McCarthy Engineering Inc.,
Windsor, ON N9C 4E4, Canada
e-mail: jmccarthy@mccarthyengineering.ca

Albert I. King

Department of Biomedical Engineering,
Wayne State University,
Detroit, MI 48201
e-mail: king@eng.wayne.edu

1Corresponding author.

Manuscript received August 31, 2015; final manuscript received July 15, 2016; published online September 2, 2016. Assoc. Editor: Barclay Morrison.

J Biomech Eng 138(10), 101008 (Sep 02, 2016) (10 pages) Paper No: BIO-15-1429; doi: 10.1115/1.4034306 History: Received August 31, 2015; Revised July 15, 2016

Most studies on football helmet performance focus on lowering head acceleration-related parameters to reduce concussions. This has resulted in an increase in helmet size and mass. The objective of this paper was to study the effect of helmet mass on head and upper neck responses. Two independent test series were conducted. In test series one, 90 pendulum impact tests were conducted with four different headform and helmet conditions: unhelmeted Hybrid III headform, Hybrid III headform with a football helmet shell, Hybrid III headform with helmet shell and facemask, and Hybrid III headform with the helmet and facemask with mass added to the shell (n = 90). The Hybrid III neck was used for all the conditions. For all the configurations combined, the shell only, shell and facemask, and weighted helmet conditions resulted in 36%, 43%, and 44% lower resultant head accelerations (p < 0.0001), respectively, when compared to the unhelmeted condition. Head delta-V reductions were 1.1%, 4.5%, and 4.4%, respectively. In contrast, the helmeted conditions resulted in 26%, 41%, and 49% higher resultant neck forces (p < 0.0001), respectively. The increased neck forces were dominated by neck tension. In test series two, testing was conducted with a pneumatic linear impactor (n = 178). Fourteen different helmet makes and models illustrate the same trend. The increased neck forces provide a possible explanation as to why there has not been a corresponding reduction in concussion rates despite improvements in helmets ability to reduce head accelerations.

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Figures

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Fig. 1

Changes in helmet mass from the early 1970s until 2010 (Reproduced with permission from Viano and Halstead [2]. Copyright 2012 by Springer.)

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Fig. 2

Locations for linear impact to the shell and facemask

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Fig. 3

Computer 3D model of the pendulum test setup

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Fig. 4

The relationship between head kinematics and neck forces in an unhelmeted and helmeted, location C impact

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Fig. 5

A comparison of the percentage increase in head mass (versus the unhelmeted headform) to the percentage increase in upper neck forces. A least-squares fit was conducted through the average data.

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Fig. 6

Average resultant acceleration and delta-V for the headform being struck with no helmet compared to the condition with the headform wearing the baseline helmet and facemask. Data are presented for impact conditions A, B, C, and D.

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Fig. 7

Average headform momentum and resultant upper neck forces for the headform being struck with no helmet compared to the condition with the headform wearing the baseline helmet and facemask. Data are presented for impact conditions A, B, C, and D.

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Fig. 8

Summary of increase in headform effective mass and percentage change in headform acceleration, delta-V, momentum, resultant upper neck forces, and neck tension for the 14 helmets (average ± std dev) at impact speeds of 5.5 m/s, 7.4 m/s, and 9.3 m/s. The data are summarized from Viano [2,3] for impact location C.

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