University of British Columbia researchers have invented a sports helmet that reduces direct impact to the neck by up to 56 per cent, according to preliminary tests.
Dubbed Pro-Neck-TorTM, the patent-pending technology features a movable inner shell that guides the head to tilt slightly forward or backward in a head-on impact, thus allowing dissipation of direct loads to the cervical spine. The inner shell mechanism is deployed only when the wearer lands head-first with a certain speed and angle at impact. It works otherwise like existing sports helmets.
For an animation of how the helmet works, visit www.pronecktor.com.
“Existing helmets are not designed to protect the neck and the cervical region of the spine, which happens to be the weakest,” says co-inventor Peter Cripton, a Mechanical Engineering assistant professor in the Faculty of Applied Science.
“Pro-Neck-Tor is designed to address potentially debilitating injuries to the neck and spine that often accompany head-first impacts,” says Cripton, who is also director of the UBC Injury Biomechanics Laboratory, with facilities at the Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute.