Airbags for your head? Researchers study new bike helmets

We all know that helmets are critical safety measures for avid bicyclists. Traditional foam helmets have been proven to protect our brains from serious injury, including skull fractures.

Did you know, however, that despite protective gear like helmets, biking causes more concussions than any other sport or activity?

The more we learn about concussions, the more we are beginning to realize how important it is to do everything possible to protect ourselves from them. One Stanford assistant professor is seeking to do just that with a new bike helmet.

Preventing concussions with airbag helmets

After sustaining two concussions from bike accidents, the assistant professor thought there had to be a better way to protect our heads from injury. He came up with the airbag helmet.

The airbag helmet is worn in a pocket around the rider's neck, not on your head. It is designed to inflate and surround your head when an accident is imminent, similar to airbags in cars. With the right amount of air in the helmet, riders should be better protected from concussions.

Promising test results

So far, tests of the airbag helmets have had positive results. When the helmet is fully and properly inflated, drop tests indicate that the new product is as much as six times more effective at slowing head acceleration than traditional helmets.

However, those studying the airbag helmet caution that its functionality is the key. If the helmet doesn't fully inflate before impact, it won't be nearly as effective.

Are airbag helmets the future of bicycle safety?

Airbag helmets are already being sold in Europe, but they have not been approved for use in the U.S. It is clear at this point that more testing needs to be done before the helmets could become available to cyclists in the Sacramento area.

In the meantime, keep wearing your traditional helmet. While it could be better at protecting you from concussions, it can prevent other serious head injuries if you are involved in an accident.

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