Background Finite element analysis (FEA) is a computational modeling method widely used in materials and mechanical engineering to simulate the strain in a given physical system. The SIMon (Simulation Injury Monitor) is a finite element head model developed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Association in order to study how various impact conditions affect the human brain.
Objective Compare brain strain in high and low velocity impacts, between short track (ST) and ice hockey (IH) helmets.
Design Two-group experimental design.
Setting Data from previous impacts used in SIMon to model the human brain response to impacts.
Patients (or Participants) 5 different helmet models; 3 ST models and 2 IH models.
Interventions (or Assessment of Risk Factors) Assessment of ST and IH helmet impact attenuation under various conditions.
Main Outcome Measurements Cumulative Strain Damage Measure (CSDM) 15, 20 and 25. CSDM is the percentage of brain volume that crosses the 15%, 20% and 25% threshold. This has been shown to correlate with deformation-related brain injuries, such as Diffuse Axonal Injury.
Results One-way between-helmet ANOVAs for CSDM 15, 20 and 25 in low and high velocity impacts revealed statistical differences in CSDM 15, 20 and 25 [CSDM 15, F(4, 34) = 70.7, p<0.05; CSDM 20, F(4, 34) = 63.4, p<0.05; CSDM 25, F(4, 34) = 32.5, p<0.05]. The trend was that ST helmets outperformed IH helmets in rear, rear-boss and front-boss impacts, but that IH helmets outperformed ST in side impacts.
Conclusions The results of the FEA reveal a difference between the ST and IH helmets, with ST helmets generally outperforming IH helmets. Interestingly, these results are different than the results optained when comparing linear and rotational acceleration results for these same impacts. Currently, certifications only require peak linear acceleration values be below a certain threshold. However, these studies demonstrate the importance of using various outcome measures to determine the efficacy of helmets in sport.
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