Pressurized Sports Helmet
When a sports helmet can “take a hit” but the encased brain suffers trama it is clear that force dissipation is not adequately assigned. Taking learning from the automotive industry the migration from rigid car frames which transferred force to the occupants inside to crumple zones and air bags which reduce velocity to minimize the force transferred to occupants – an analogy can be made for sports helmets.
The design concept is to have a sports helmet that is made up of many pockets of pressurized air cells that have blowholes feeding adjacent pressurized air cells – so when a force is encountered that exceeds the blowholes pressurized capacity the blowhole releases into the adjacent cell. The result is that as the pressure capacity is exceeded and as blowholes open up the velocity of the force is substantially reduced to minimize the force received by the person wearing this type of helmet.
The concept of reducing force velocity using air bags is well known, modifying this concept slightly results in a corpuscular matrix of mini air bags that make this sports helmet. The difference is that after a hit and deflation of any number of pressurized cells in the helmet – the helmet can be re-pressurized to re-inflate the cells within the helmet up to the pressure of the blowholes holding capacity.
Manufacture of such a helmet lends itself to 3D printing due to the interior volumes of the pressurized cells. Some advancement is necessary to be able to print an elastomer that can form the cell and the interior blowhole within the cell with dimensions that can form a blowhole to hold a specified pressure.
Direct, glancing and offset forces encountered are readily accommodated by this type of helmet. Once a “hit” is registered by the helmet by deformation (crumple zone) and release of pressure in the cells (air bags) – the helmet can be re-pressurized to put all cells back to nominal pressure and placed back in service.
Change is hard, it took the automobile industry many years to embrace and implement crumple zone and air bag technology. Given the current knowledge of sports brain injuries there is motivation to quickly introduce a helmet that takes advantage of these technologies.
Statistics and common sense tell us that the thousands of "hits" players encounter playing sports is detrimental to brain health and safety. Revisiting and re-imagining a helmet that incorporates crumple zone and air bag technology can result in a safer helmet.