Jockey head injuries, especially concussions, are common in horse racing. Current helmets do help reduce the severity and incidences of head injury, but the high concussion incidence suggests that there may be scope to further improve the performance of equestrian helmets. The aim of this research was to analyse current equestrian helmets and European equestrian standards in terms of their ability to reduce head injury risk, and propose guidelines for improvement for future equestrian helmets and their corresponding standards.
Finite element (FE) simulations in ABAQUS/Explicit were used to model a realistic helmet model during standard helmeted headform impacts and helmeted head impacts. Impacts were simulated for a large array of helmet design variations. It is possible to improve upon the current equestrian helmet designs by means of modifications that are possible with existing technology, without changing the helmet drastically.
The UCDBTM (University College Dublin Brain Trauma Model), a human FE head model developed at UCD, is a valuable tool for assessing head injury risk, as it is shows that there are mechanisms that lead to head injury in addition to linear acceleration. The use of the UCDBTM has shown that injury related parameters which consider angular acceleration need to be used in standards testing, as stress and strain in the cerebrum are related to angular acceleration.