Br J Sports Med doi:10.1136/bjsports-2012-091583
  • Original article

The evaluation of speed skating helmet performance through peak linear and rotational accelerations

  1. Thomas Blaine Hoshizaki1
  1. 1Neurotrauma Impact Science Laboratory, University of Ottawa, School of Human Kinetics, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
  2. 2Division of Neurosurgery, Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO), Ottawa, Canada
  1. Correspondence to Clara Karton, Neurotrauma Impact Science Laboratory, University of Ottawa, School of Human Kinetics, A106-200 Lees Avenue, Ottawa, ON K1S 5S9, Canada; ckart020{at}
  • Received 27 July 2012
  • Revised 3 December 2012
  • Accepted 11 December 2012
  • Published Online First 11 January 2013


Objective Like many sports involving high speeds and body contact, head injuries are a concern for short track speed skating athletes and coaches. While the mandatory use of helmets has managed to nearly eliminate catastrophic head injuries such as skull fractures and cerebral haemorrhages, they may not be as effective at reducing the risk of a concussion. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the performance characteristics of speed skating helmets with respect to managing peak linear and peak rotational acceleration, and to compare their performance against other types of helmets commonly worn within the speed skating sport.

Materials and methods Commercially available speed skating, bicycle and ice hockey helmets were evaluated using a three-impact condition test protocol at an impact velocity of 4 m/s.

Results and discussion Two speed skating helmet models yielded mean peak linear accelerations at a low-estimated probability range for sustaining a concussion for all three impact conditions. Conversely, the resulting mean peak rotational acceleration values were all found close to the high end of a probability range for sustaining a concussion. A similar tendency was observed for the bicycle and ice hockey helmets under the same impact conditions.

Conclusion Speed skating helmets may not be as effective at managing rotational acceleration and therefore may not successfully protect the user against risks associated with concussion injuries.

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