Background A high performance European equestrian helmet standard (EN 14572) was created to promote a higher level of protection for jockeys than existing equestrian helmet standards. Currently no equestrian helmet has been manufactured that meets this standard with the main challenge being the requirement to meet high and low impact energy attenuation criteria while passing tests against hazard and hemispherical anvils.
Objective To develop and assess helmet prototypes to meet the energy attenuation requirements of EN 14572.
Design Materials and helmet prototypes were assessed using impact tests. Polymer honeycomb and foams of selected densities and thicknesses (expanded polystyrene, expanded polypropylene, and polyurethane) were sourced as possible energy attenuating liner materials. These materials were impact tested both as single material samples and combination samples consisting of relative high and low density materials. Impact tests were performed using a rigid headform with test heights ranging from 1.2 m to 2.5 m. A series of prototype helmets were constructed with a high performing material combination as the energy attenuating liner in a typical thermoplastic shell. The prototypes were impact tested and compared to existing models.
Setting Jockeys and equestrian sportspeople.
Intervention Helmet design.
Main outcome measurements Linear headform acceleration measured during impact tests.
Results Increasing the liner thickness increased the energy attenuation performance of all materials and allowed lower density materials to perform better during higher velocity impacts. Combination samples of polymer honeycomb and low density foam performed better than single material samples over the range of impact velocities. The prototype helmets had higher energy attenuation performance when compared to unmodified helmets with the same shell, especially for lower severity impacts, but were larger and heavier.
Conclusion There is potential to increase the energy attenuation capabilities of current equestrian helmets through utilisation of novel materials and dimensional changes. The impact of these changes on helmet ergonomics needs consideration.