A new design of bicycle helmet that mimics the way that the scalp protects the head could be on sale within a year, says the inventor.
Dr Ken Phillips designed the improved helmet after looking at the way that the scalp slides across the skull, to deflect some of the impact when a glancing blow is received. Tests have suggested that the system can provide 60 percent more protection against brain injury. This week, a motorcycle helmet using the technology hit shops in Europe, and now Dr Phillips believes that his idea could be protecting cyclists in a year.
Traditional helmets provide cushioning against direct blows that can cause bleeding on the surface of the brain where the impact occurs and on the opposite side where the brain "bounces" against the skull. However, they offer little to stop rotational "shearing" forces that can occur when the head experiences a rapid or forceful movement (similar to whiplash). This can cause different parts of the brain to move at different points and result in the stretching or tearing of brain tissue.
The Phillips Head Protection System (PHPS) uses a membrane coating to effectively create a sliding "scalp" for the helmet. It offers additional protection from head injuries by absorbing some of the rotational forces experienced during an accident, sliding and stretching by up to 800 percent to significantly decrease the rotational force.
The British Environmental Transport Association welcomed the news, saying that the "invention promises to make cycle helmets far more effective, particularly for children".
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