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How MIPS saves motorcyclists’ lives

Several years ago I was at an equipment show, where I was given a look at a snowboard helmet with protection against “sudden rotational energy transfer” to the brain. At first glance, a completely ordinary helmet with a hard outer shell resembled a “kinder surprise”, because inside, under the soft lining, there was an additional layer with reduced friction. In other words: with a sharp impact, this layer is displaced relative to the outer shell by 10-15 mm. I was surprised why such a logical way to reduce the impact of impact force on the brain and dissipate energy is not used in motorcycle equipment? Today MIPS has finally come to the motorcycle world and is saving people on public roads. Why is this system so important and needed by motorcyclists?

Head injury

The use of equipment, its structure and design principles are always dictated by two main principles: anatomical rationale and features of injuries in accidents.

Read more about injuries and accidents here:

MIPS is the result of the work of a Swedish neurosurgeon. Hans von Holst dedicated his life to the science and study of head injuries. He once noticed that even with a good helmet, head injuries in any active sport can still be serious. Have you ever wondered why many falls or blows subsequently lead to a concussion? How so? Even in wrestling and especially in boxing, where head punches are so common, this is a real problem.

During a strong blow, the brain is injured several times. Due to a sharp collision with an obstacle (falling on the asphalt, hitting with something – a hand or a bat, etc.), the shock wave travels through the brain from the place of application of the force to the opposite pole. Thus, the first injury is the place of impact, and the repeated impact of the brain on the skull is called “shock” or “recoil”.

It should be noted that at the moment the force is applied, increased pressure is created on one side of the brain, and on the other side it decreases, and then vice versa.

As a result of scientific research, it turned out that only rotation affects more linear injuries to the brain. When the speed of movement of the cranium differs from the speed of movement of the brain, such injuries are called rotational injuries. Many helmets, not only motorcycle helmets, are tested with an impact at a right angle, but in reality, when a person falls, he receives a blow at a certain angle, and the impact force has a rotational motion by inertia. Hans von Holst found out that rotational injuries can lead to damage to nerves and blood vessels, due to pressure and the impact of counter forces, a rupture between the cerebral cortex and the brainstem can occur. As a result of rotational injuries, a person receives a concussion, subdural hematoma, or diffuse axon injury.

Linear blows are also dangerous, but they often break the skull, and the brain itself suffers only at the point of application and counterstroke.

What did MIPS come up with?

To be honest, nature and evolution invented everything for them. MIPS has brought the principle of brain protection to the technological level of performance in helmets. The human brain is protected by cerebrospinal fluid – cerebrospinal fluid. It protects the brain and spinal cord from mechanical stress, maintains constant intracranial pressure and water-electrolyte homeostasis. If there were no cerebrospinal fluid inside the skull, then with even weak blows the brain would be injured much more.

Hans von Holst, together with a researcher at the Royal Swedish Institute of Technology – Peter Halldin – developed a multidirectional brain protection – the Multi-directional Impact Protection System. A special liner, which is hidden between the shell of the helmet and the lining, rotates during the fall, dissipating the force of the impact and smoothing the rotational action.

The first helmet, which was created by Hans von Holst and Peter Halldin, was intended for equestrian sports. In 2010, the system took over helmets for cycling and winter sports – ski and snowboard. In 2012, MIPS gets a lot of publicity and is featured in scientific journals. It is only in 2016 that the very first motorcycle helmet with integrated multi-face protection appears.

In 2019 MIPS receives Sweden’s prestigious technical award – Polhem. Among motorcycle equipment, the system is most actively implemented in off-road models.

Icon also did not stand aside and in the spring of 2020 presented its new product – the Airflite MIPS Stealth helmet.

This is an important step for Icon towards better security for its customers. MIPS tests all developments that integrate their system. The Icon Airflite MIPS Stealth helmet has been MIPS tested and approved before entering the market.

The helmet was tested for impacts and falls at an angle, and the quality of protection against rotational injuries was measured. Therefore, when buying an Icon Airflite MIPS Stealth helmet, you can be sure that it meets more standards as it has passed the cross-validation.

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