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The Biomechanics of Head Trauma and the Development of the Modern Helmet. How Far Have We Really Come?
Published September 21, 2005 by International Research Council on Biokinetics of Impact in Switzerland
This paper reviews the development of protective headgear over the past 50 years and attempts to put in perspective the role of biomechanics in that process. Historically, basic engineering concepts of energy absorption and load distribution have been applied to helmet design and performance specifications but little in the way of biomechanics of head injury per se has been utilized. The lack of progress appears to stem largely from adherence to old fashion test methods which may not properly reflect the circumstances in which most helmeted humans may find themselves. The biofidelity of the test device, the nature of the failure criteria, as well as the manner by which the movement of the test helmet is constrained, are all issues that bear on the application of biomechanical fundamentals. The paper concludes with suggestions regarding how to better implement what is known about the biomechanics of head injury to helmet design and standards development.