Background: Protective helmets in sport are important for reducing the risk of head and facial injury. In cricket and other sports with projectiles, national test standards control the minimum helmet performance. However, there are few field data showing if helmets are effective in reducing head injury.
Objectives: (a) To examine the performance of cricket helmets in laboratory tests; (b) to examine performance with regard to test standards, game hazards, and helmet construction; (c) to compare and contrast these findings with baseball and ice hockey helmets.
Methods: Impact tests were conducted on a selection of helmet models: five cricket, two baseball, and two ice hockey. Ball to helmet impacts at speeds of 19, 27, 36, and 45 m/s were produced using an air cannon and a Hybrid III dummy headform and neck unit. Free fall drop tests with a rigid headform on to a selection of anvils (flat rigid, flat deformable, and hemispherical rigid) were conducted. Resultant headform acceleration was measured and compared between tests.
Results: At the lower speed impacts, all helmets produced a good reduction in headform acceleration, and thus injury risk. At the higher speed impacts, the effectiveness was less. For example, the mean maximum headform accelerations for all cricket helmets at each speed were: 67, 160, 316, and 438 g for 19, 27, 36, and 45 m/s ball speeds respectively. Drop tests on to a hemispherical anvil produced the highest accelerations. The variation in performance increased as the magnitude of the impact energy increased, in both types of testing.
Conclusions: The test method used for baseball helmets in which the projectile is fired at the helmet may be superior to helmet drop tests. Cricket helmet performance is satisfactory for low speed impacts, but not for impacts at higher, more realistic, speeds. Baseball and ice hockey helmets offer slightly better relative and absolute performance at the 27 m/s ball and puck impacts.
- head injury
- test methods
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