Bicycle helmets that utilize airbag technology instead of conventional hard foam may offer five times more protection against brain injuries, according to Stanford University researchers. Ben Gruber reports.
STORY: In this lab at Sanford University - crash test dummies are taking a beating. (CRASH) Researchers are comparing conventional hard foam helmets to those that deploy an airbag, which are now sold in Europe. (CRASH) (SOUNDBITE) (English) MEHMET KURT, BIOENGINEERING, STANFORD UNIVERSITY, SAYING: "We did exactly that test with a bicycle helmet versus an airbag helmet at the right pressure and you can get a five-fold reduction." Researchers found that if the airbag helmet deploys properly - it's five times more effective in protecting against brain injuries such as concussions, which can occur due to acceleration forces sustained during an accident. But what if the airbag helmet doesn't work properly? (SOUNDBITE) (English) MEHMET KURT, BIOENGINEERING, STANFORD UNIVERSITY, SAYING: "If you don't choose your initial pressure correctly you can actually be at more risk of injury compared to a standard helmet." More risk because during an accident your head could impact the ground causing a potential skull fracture. So which is better? The researchers say it comes down to statistics. Bicycle accidents are the leading cause of sports related head injures because the sheer amount of people who ride bikes. (SOUNDBITE) (English) MEHMET KURT, BIOENGINEERING, STANFORD UNIVERSITY, SAYING: "There is a huge compliance issue. There are studies that show that especially in the pediatrics population the biggest problem is the self image problem." The take away is.. if you don't wear a helmet because you don't want to mess up your hair - an airbag helmet may be your answer... and it may lower your risk of a concussion as well.