A Nielsen survey found that many who need helmets and hard hats for their safety don’t realize the gear helps prevent concussions.
Americans in all walks of life need more education about concussion prevention, especially about how helmets and hard hats can help prevent such injuries. Consumer survey company Nielsen was commissioned by Mips, a helmet safety technology company, to conduct the survey. Approximately 1,000 people in the United States were surveyed, all of whom had purchased a headset within the past three years or were planning to purchase one within the next six months for the following uses: cycling, climbing, horse riding, motorcycling, skiing, snowboarding, team sports and/or safety equipment.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there were 64,362 traumatic brain injury (TBI-related deaths) in 2020 and 223,135 TBI-related hospitalizations in 2019, i.e. more than 611 TBI-related hospitalizations and 176 TBI-related deaths per day1. In 2020, the CDC also reported that 7% of American children experienced TBI.2and that each year in the United States, approximately 3.8 million concussions occur as a result of sports-related injuries3.
One of the most important findings of the survey is that 70% of US helmet buyers were unaware of the term “rotational movement”. Lack of understanding of rotational motion, a key driver of TBIs, appears to correlate with Americans’ helmet buying decisions; 7 out of 10 US helmet buyers did not consider helmet rotational protection at all when buying a helmet.
One of the most significant findings of the survey is that 70% of US helmet buyers are unaware of the term rotational motion. Rotational motion is one of the main contributors to head injuries. Lack of understanding of rotational motion appears to correlate with Americans’ helmet buying decisions; 7 out of 10 US helmet buyers did not consider helmet rotational protection at all when buying a helmet, according to the survey.
The spinning motion is a common cause of concussions and more serious brain damage from oblique blows to the head. In most cases, when people fall while moving and hit their head, they are not hitting their head at a right 90 degree angle to the surface. Instead, people often fall and hit their heads at an angle, similar to how a tennis ball hits the ground after being hit with a racket. When someone’s head hits something at an angle, it usually exposes your head to rotational motion, which studies show can be more dangerous than linear motion.
Pioneering studies from the mid-twentieth century showed that rotational motion is a key component of certain traumatic brain injuries such as concussions and diffuse axonal damage.4,5,6. The rotational motion causes shearing of brain tissue, which can cause traumatic brain injury. After these pioneering studies, more recent studies have supported the prevalence of rotational motion in diffuse traumatic brain injury.seven,8,9,ten. Despite this evidence, today there are only two helmet testing standards that consider rotational motion (FIM and ECE22.06), both of which only apply to motorcycle helmets in the EU.
The survey also revealed that approximately 40% of US helmet buyers have suffered a concussion in the past, 60% of whom were not wearing a helmet at the time of the concussion. Additionally, comfort and fit are the most important criteria Americans consider when shopping for a helmet, followed by perceived protection against head injuries, compliance with specific safety regulations and price.
“Around the world, traumatic brain injury (TBI) is often misunderstood,” said Peter Halldin, co-founder of Mips. “Improving safety and helping to increase education around TBIs – there is nothing more important to us than this. Think of a parent for example, when buying a helmet for their child, or you’re buying a helmet for yourself or a loved one. If people don’t have relevant information, how can they make informed decisions?”