Can more be done in the design of helmets to reduce the risk of head injury? The answer to the question is frustratingly simple: yes.

To understand how helmet safety can be improved, we first need to understand how the brain is concussed or more seriously injured. Brain injury, which runs the gamut from a low-level injury (e.g., sub-concussive) to the gravest of injuries (e.g., major bleeding throughout the brain and diffuse injury to the axons), is caused by excessive impact force or excessive acceleration or motion of the brain. These injuries can happen by direct impact to the helmet-covered head or from violent movement of the head when another part of the body is struck and the head, tethered to the body by the neck, gets tossed about. Regardless of whether the brain is accelerated from direct impact to the head or movement of the head from impact to the torso, it’s the motion of the brain inside the skull that causes these injuries.

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