Motorcycle riders, bicyclists, military men, and contact sports athletes should be fully aware that the most important piece of safety equipment that can be worn is a helmet. Not only do helmets protect against concussions, but they have the potential to save lives. As any Taylor and Blair personal injury lawyer in Vancouver will tell you, the head holds our most vulnerable organ and should be protected whenever possible. Below, we take a look at the evolution of the helmet and how technology has come to shape the protection of our own lives.
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The Beginning Of Helmets
The first motorcycle helmet was created by a Professor named C. F. Lombard, who taught at the University of Southern California. He patented a helmet constructed with an inside layer that was meant to absorb impact shocks and spread them across the layer’s surface. Yet Lombard’s model didn’t work as well as he expected, and neither were other early prototypes. These helmets were mainly composed of a ring of leather surrounding the head along with a wool ring above that and layers of leather strips. These safeguards weren’t enough to fully protect the head. It took a couple decades more of research and experimentation to develop effective helmets that exceeded the level of minimal protection offered by the original leather and pith models.
As the development of lighter helmet materials improved, more layers were added to boost the helmet’s ability to protect against significant impacts. By the 1970s, helmets with protective foam liners and hard exteriors were created. Yet these failed to completely protect the head and they were quite heavy. In 1975, Bell Auto parts created the first viable helmet for cyclists with a very hard exterior plastic shell that was lined with foam padding on the inside. By the 1990s helmets boasted a foam liner with polystyrene along with a hard and very thin shell for extra durability.
Remarkable Advances In Sports Helmets
Today’s football helmets are especially protective with polyurethane fabric padded shells and foam rubber. A company in Pennsylvania even offers a helmet that is partially composed of bullet proof vest material. The official helmet producer for the NFL, Riddell, is introducing a new helmet this season that has a sensor system that sends a signal to the sidelines when there is an impact beyond a player’s typical hit magnitude.
Technological improvements have also brought us to where we are today as advancements in computing capabilities have made it easier to test a helmet’s effectiveness. Modern day helmets are extremely light and have several vents for extra air flow and comfort. They also boast adjustable straps to keep them securely fastened to the head. We’ve never been safer, but the new helmet technology doesn’t mean we are invincible. Bicyclists, motorcyclists, and athletes alike need to exercise plenty of caution when partaking in their respective activities. A helmet is only a safeguard that can limit the extent of an injury.
By Brooke Chaplan