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Accid Anal Prev. 2019 Mar;124:58-65. doi: 10.1016/j.aap.2018.12.017. Epub 2019 Jan 8.

Evaluation of a novel bicycle helmet concept in oblique impact testing.

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Biomechanics Laboratory, Legacy Research Institute, Portland, OR, 97232, United States.
Institut de Mécanique des Fluides et des Solides, Université de Strasbourg, France.
Biomechanics Laboratory, Legacy Research Institute, Portland, OR, 97232, United States. Electronic address:



A novel bicycle helmet concept has been developed to mitigate rotational head acceleration, which is a predominant mechanism of traumatic brain injury (TBI). This WAVECEL concept employs a collapsible cellular structure that is recessed within the helmet to provide a rotational suspension. This cellular concept differs from other bicycle helmet technologies for mitigation of rotational head acceleration, such as the commercially available Multi-Directional Impact Protection System (MIPS) technology which employs a slip liner to permit sliding between the helmet and the head during impact. This study quantified the efficacy of both, the WAVECEL cellular concept, and a MIPS helmet, in direct comparison to a traditional bicycle helmet made of rigid expanded polystyrene (EPS).


Three bicycle helmet types were subjected to oblique impacts in guided vertical drop tests onto an angled anvil: traditional EPS helmets (CONTROL group); helmets with a MIPS slip liner (SLIP group); and helmets with a WAVECEL cellular structure (CELL group). Helmet performance was evaluated using 4.8 m/s impacts onto anvils angled at 30°, 45°, and 60° from the horizontal plane. In addition, helmet performance was tested at a faster speed of 6.2 m/s onto the 45° anvil. Five helmets were tested under each of the four impact conditions for each of the three groups, requiring a total of 60 helmets. Headform kinematics were acquired and used to calculate an injury risk criterion for Abbreviated Injury Score (AIS) 2 brain injury.


Linear acceleration of the headform remained below 90 g and was not associated with the risk of skull fracture in any impact scenario and helmet type. Headform rotational acceleration in the CONTROL group was highest for 6.2 m/s impacts onto the 45° anvil (7.2 ± 0.6 krad/s2). In this impact scenario, SLIP helmets and CELL helmets reduced rotational acceleration by 22% (p = 0003) and 73% (p < 0.001), respectively, compared to CONTROL helmets. The CONTROL group had the highest AIS 2 brain injury risk of 59 ± 8% for 6.2 m/s impacts onto the 45° anvil. In this impact scenario, SLIP helmets and CELL helmets reduced the AIS 2 brain injury risk to 34.2% (p = 0.001) and 1.2% (p < 0.001), respectively, compared to CONTROL helmets.


Results of this study are limited to a narrow range of impact conditions, but demonstrated the potential that rotational acceleration and the associated brain injury risk can be significantly reduced by the cellular WAVECEL concept or a MIPS slip liner. Results obtained under specific impact angles and impact velocities indicated performance differences between these mechanisms. These differences emphasize the need for continued research and development efforts toward helmet technologies that further improve protection from brain injury over a wide range a realistic impact parameters.


Bicycle helmet; Brain injury; Concussion; Impact mitigation; Impact testing; Rotational acceleration

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