Rotational Acceleration Causes Concussions

Football helmets today are designed to withstand linear acceleration so they’re good at protecting the skull from fractures and to some degree lessening the jarring of the brain inside the skull. However, according to latest research, most concussions that cause traumatic brain injury are more the result of “rotational acceleration”- a sort of brain-twisting.

Multidirectional Impact Protection System (MIPS)

Following that research, a Swedish company has created a new type of helmet incorporating its Multidirectional Impact Protection System (MIPS), designed by Royal Institute of Technology scientist Peter Halldin. MIPS provides a helmet-within-a-helmet that allows the head some “float” when impacted, while it distributes the force.

MIPS research began in 1997, when Halldin teamed up with Hans von Holst, a neurosurgeon at Stockholm’s Karolinska Hospital to spend the next 10 years studying traumatic brain injuries. They focused on rotational forces and eventually came up with the idea for MIPS.

Mainstream Companies Adopt MIPS Technology

MIPS is now licensed to existing helmet companies, so those manufacturers can improve their own products. In the summer of 2012, Bauer the number-one helmet maker in ice hockey, after collaborating with MIPS co-founder Halldin, released the Re-akt. It is the first attempt by a mainstream company to include a rotational layer in contact-sports helmets.

Whether or not reducing rotational acceleration can prevent concussions in all cases remains a subject for debate and more research. The MIPS system, however, is an important step in the right direction to reduce the incidence of traumatic brain injury in contact sports.