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  • Luke Bartlett

    I did my Masters thesis in Mechanical Engineering on modelling of the brain during car accident loading. Definitely found that one of the biggest correlations between injury and mechanism was a rotation of the skull, causing rotation of the brain in the skull. The geometry in that space between the brain and skull is extremely complicated and anything which can reduce ‘sliding’ will reduce the chance of tearing in the area which results in bad bleeding on the brain and TBI. It’s also interesting that a high impulse force over a short period can actually create less deformation in the brain than a lower force over a longer time, hard helmets are good helmets.

  • Greg

    I don’t like statistics without context What is a “50% better helmet?” And “eliminate” kinetic energy? Come on. Not even an F1 helmet can eliminate energy.

    • In this context, you’ll find that the company measured up to 50% reduction in rotational forces experienced by the head (or more specifically, a model head). http://www.mipsprotection.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/Halldin2001.pdf

      I did pursue the question of the efficacy of the design in the field, but it’s a very difficult issue to test, since there are far too many variables associated with any accident/collision/fall. So while the results from lab testing are clear, MIPS does not make any specific claims for what that means for the individual taking a tumble and hitting their head.

      Importantly, the same issue effects field-testing the efficacy of any helmet design. The ideal scenario would involve recruiting volunteers to participate in a controlled fall/impact but there are obvious problems with that approach.

      • Greg

        Thanks for the additional context – I figured as much. But a 50% reduction in rotational force alone likely doesn’t make a helmet “50% better.” Presumably only some fraction of collisions involve the types of forces that MIPS purportedly protects against, as you point out. I’m just a bit skeptical. As the conclusion in the paper you linked to pointed out, only one size and type of helmet was tested, and the “head” had no hair or scalp, which, as all cyclists know, allows for considerable slippage of a helmet. Not anti-MIPS. It’s just the types of language used by the creators sets off my alarms slightly, and every article I read on the technology has no dissenting voice

        • Maximus

          You’re not the only one. ‘Scalp slippage’ (good term!) strikes me as having a very high significance and yet it wasn’t modelled? I’m with you.

          All for safety but I’m suspicious of the claims. Have we seen any correspondence in the incidence of head injures since MIPS introduction?

          • Luke Bartlett

            I modelled some skull/brain interface situations, and it’s certainly where a lot of problems arise.Generally, an increase in the eccentricty of blunt force trauma to the head (ie force with a higher rotational momentum applied to the head) dramatically increased the stresses at the interface. Therefore by introducing this barrier, i would think that if your head can slide more in the inside of the helmet this is reduced. However, what i’m not sure about is how much your skull can already slide inside of a helmet? I would guess not much due to the friction between skin/hair/helmet under high load of impact. the skin on your head is quite loose as to absorb some rotational force, increasing this ability *should help?

        • You’ve got to experience the peer-review process first-hand to understand the rigour that is required to get data published in the first place. Put bluntly, the questions that you’re posing with your scepticism were asked long ago. That doesn’t mean that they aren’t worth asking, or that you don’t deserve to have them answered. That’s one of the reasons why MIPS has endeavoured to make some of the original research papers openly available but the restrictions imposed by the academic press typically limit public access to all research papers.

          • Gee, that reads a (large) bit condescending. Perhaps Greg deserves it!

            But asking for clinical data does not mean the first research was bodgy. Plenty of good research does not translate so well to medical outcomes because of real world complications.

            I hope it’s an excellent tech – but it needs longer-term clinical data, surely.

            • All of the researchers I’ve ever worked with are largely sceptics. They have a very healthy regard for what they don’t know, including real-world complications.

              Let’s just consider what a large-scale clinical trial would look like: without the capacity to observe the accidents first-hand, a research team would have to settle with looking at all hospital admissions for cyclists suffering head injuries. If they’re lucky, they’ll have a medic or two on hand that will actually observe the patient and collect information on the accident, but given that the study will need hundreds of participants (if not more), gaining access to police reports might be the most efficient way to do survey the numbers involved. At the very least, then, there’s going to be a fair bit of variation in how much detail is collected on the accident.

              The researchers are going to need very good data on how the accident occurred, not just on the unfortunate victim, but on the circumstances. Here, a good experiment will benefit from a handy control group that the test group can be compared against eg. those victims wearing a helmet without MIPS, versus those wearing a helmet with MIPS. Ideally, the circumstances for each group should be identical right down to the brand of helmet used.

              The variables spiral outwards from there. I agree on the value of a clinical study, but it must be a very good clinical study.

          • Greg

            It’s common scientific practice to release whitepapers or non-refereed research in advance of peer-reviewed research….just a simple whitepaper replicating the motorcycle stuff on instrumented *cycling helmets* would be a start. Smith themselves could presumably do it…it’d be comforting to know if they had a validation process for their own use of MIPS.

            • The phrase “instrumented cycling helmets” is interesting: could a modified ICEdot, say, collect some of this data? I’m not a scientist (a chaplain, actually!), nor an engineer, but I have worked with research through IRBs for almost a decade. It seems like there could be a study designed around gathering data from consented participants that use ICEdots. Granted, this is still probably not a huge number, but one that would at least gather real-world data from both MIPS-lined and non-MIPS-lined helmet users . . .

            • Timiji

              It’s more common _Industry_ practice to release white papers. Science publishes abstracts or presents at conferences before publishing peer-reviewed research. That’s not to say MIPS AB hasn’t done this… I haven’t gone looking through their website… but few neurosurgeons would side-step peer review just to get something out into the public domain.

              • Greg

                That’s why I included the term “non-refereed research,” e.g. abstracts or conference papers – because I’m not certain whether to classify MIPS AB as a primarily scientific or industrial entity. The MIPS creators here are simultaneously involved in the scientific, industrial, and regulatory activities for this helmet technology. That’d generally be considered a conflict of interest in most contexts. E.g. a neurosurgeon inventing a new cranial catheter would generally not be responsible for the performance validation to achieve regulatory approval for the device.

          • Paul Jakma

            Peer review is good, and it helps ensure some level of quality, but it is far from perfect and is certainly not infallible. Never mind that it is non-trivial for researchers not right in a field to asses the quality of some venue.

            Criticisms are best answered with direct answers. Deflecting with appeals to authority, which “the paper were peer-reviewed and it was all addressed there” is a form of, does not help.

            • I agree, independent corroboration is the most robust test of any work. In the absence of a systematic examination of any and all helmets in the marketplace, the next best authority is the original research. But, as you’ve noted, a reasoned review of such data but non-experts, whether or not they have formal training, is not easy.

              My concern with criticisms about the methodology employed by MIPS mentioned here and any perceived conflict of interest is that they do nothing to actually challenge the validity of the original findings. Such questions will always be the first step in the process of critically examining any research, but in the court of public opinion, it seems to be enough to raise the question of doubt without actually mounting a case in support of it with hard data.

              So when you say that “criticisms are best answered with direct answers”, I can agree with you so long as that takes the form of well designed and rigorously performed experiments.

      • Luke Bartlett

        Hahah, plenty of research was done pre-“lets not use humans as guinea pigs” days, it’s a pity they didn’t record the information which we really need in order to validate modelling techniques these days…

    • DaveRides

      I’m not aware of any independent research validating any of the claims made about MIPS by the company, and I’ve read a couple of opinions from people who think that it’s snake oil.

      That one of the principals is now trying to write new helmet testing standards while still having an interest in the company should be ringing alarm bells.

      • If Halldin was solely responsible for this initiative then there would be plenty of room to question his motives, but he is just one of dozens of academics that are collaborating on the matter.

        I tackled the issue of conflict of interest when I interviewed Peter, and he was very open about his commitments. He shares an academic appointment at KTH with his position at MIPS. Such shared appointments are not uncommon for researchers that have successfully commercialsed an invention. In fact, the pressure put upon researchers to explore any commercial opportunities for their research is responsible for these perceived conflicts of interest. The people with the best understanding of an issue, be it helmet safety, cancer therapy, neonatal care or childhood asthma are not only called upon to inform society on the best way to tackle the problem, they provide their expertise to industry so that a tangible effort can be made to actually address the issue.

        You assume that researchers are motivated by financial reward, but that is rarely the case. The whole motive for undertaking any kind of research is to arrive at a better understanding of the problem. And when the issue involves public health, the researchers wants to see an beneficial impact on the population rather than a bump in their savings account. The rewards just aren’t there; far easier to become a real estate agent, financial broker etc.

        • Paul Jakma

          It’s still a conflict of interest, if this person is writing standards and has a financial interest in the standards being updated favourably to one kind of technology. Even the best and most noble amongst us will be influenced – even if we don’t think so ourselves.

          • Timiji

            Yes, it is a conflict, and one that would have to be declared when Halldin tries to publish new standards, and the review (peer-review and others) will all take that declared conflict into account in their assessment of the standards. By contrast, von Holst is retiring at the right time… his invention and work towards harm reduction is actually at cross purposes to his profession of fixing the product of head injuries. Does that make it more noble?

  • Kiwicyclist

    It would be good to have a list of which manufacturers have incorporated this technology into their helmets

  • Avuncular

    Doppelganger! Hans von Holst is an Andy Warhol look alike.

  • some1s_lucky

    I wonder how MIPS compares to the Smith/Koroyd product?

  • Bakers Dozen

    I hope MIPS works but I’m not so sure. Neither is helmets.org
    “…do you need MIPS? Using careful evaluation, we can’t answer that. It probably won’t hurt, other than any effect on ventilation, of if your manufacturer has kept the same outer profile and reduced the thickness of the normal liner to accommodate the MIPS layer, or if it lets the helmet slip too much, or if the extra cost of the MIPS model makes a difference to you. We do not see compelling evidence that you should trade in your current helmet on a MIPS model unless having the Latest Thing is important to you.”

  • velocite

    I read from Gabe Mirkin or someone that if I drink one less glass of red each day my chances of getting cancer of the grommet reduce by 50%. And then I discover that if I don’t my chances of getting cancer of the grommet are 0.05%, so the + 50% translates to a .075% chance, so then..I don’t care. And in relation to helmets, who knows what effect they have in reducing head injury? I’ve damaged a helmet in a fall, but have no idea how badly my head would have been damaged if I hadn’t been wearing it – or indeed, if any rotation occurred because I was wearing it. Not that I don’t believe in helmets – I always wear one, even in areas where they’re not mandatory, but don’t feel suddenly exposed because mine are not MIPS helmets.

    • Wily_Quixote

      I agree with you. I bought a MIPS helmet but now I am not sure why.
      Your scalp ‘slips’ in a helmet anyway – try it by giving your helmet a jerk, it’s not as if you can twist your head off.
      I think the best revolution in helmet design would be removing those stupid projections at the back of my helmets that allegedly ‘port’ or ‘exhaust’ hot air away, but probably just catch on the road.
      That and better energy dissipation materials, like koroyd, would probably be better for the 0.1% increment in safety that you rightly point out.

    • Timiji

      For sure! The relative (%) reduction looks great on paper until you do the math. I prefer the research that encourages me to drink more wine, though!


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