What is a concussion?
. Concussions and other traumatic brain injuries occur when the brain moves quickly inside the head, which can lead to the brain smacking into the skull. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website, “A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury (TBI) caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head that can change the way your brain normally works. Concussions can also occur from a fall or a blow to the body that causes the head and brain to move quickly back and forth.” Based on where a person hit their head, the damage affects different abilities (see fig 1). If someone hits the front or back of his or her head, the frontal and occipital lobes would collide with the skull. If a person hits the side of the head, it could cause the two halves of the brain to shear.
What Good Does A Helmet Do?
A helmet spreads the force of a hit to the head out over a greater area in order to reduce the injury. As the foam gets compressed, it leads to the force being applied over a greater period of time. Without a helmet it takes about .002 second for the brain to collide with the skull. With a helmet it takes about .008 second, which reduces the force of the brain smashing against the skull. In the equation where force equals mass times acceleration, the longer the time, and the slower the acceleration is, thus reducing the amount of force.
Why Wear A Helmet?
Helmets are important in preventing brain injuries while snowboarding. In snowboarding while attempting tricks wear a helmet, because the maneuver could go very wrong. The protective properties of a helmet can be seen in Czech Republic snowboarder Sarka Pancochova’s crash during the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics Women’s Slopestyle Final (see video). Her helmet was split down the back (see fig. 2). Because of her helmet, she finished her snowboarding run and walked away from her epic wipeout. As told by Megan Levy reporter for the Sidney Morning Herald, “Pancochova had already scored 86.25 on her first run on Sunday, and was attempting her second and final run in the women's final when disaster struck. Footage showed her body going limp as she tumbled to the bottom of the slope, an indication that she had been knocked out. As she came out of a big jump she failed to fully rotate and caught the edge of her snowboard as she landed. She was flung heavily backwards, smashing her head into the hard-packed snow. After several seconds Pancochova started moving, before medical officials reached her and helped her to her feet. She then snowboarded down the remainder of the course.” Other action sports similarly show the protective properties of helmets in decreasing the severity of head injuries. According to Colin Bane author of the article “Head Injuries on Rise Despite Helmets,” “It's not just NFL athletes, either: concussions and traumatic brain injuries have plagued action sports in recent years, with high-profile injury stories like snowboarder Kevin Pearce, skateboarder Adam Taylor, and BMX riders Kevin Robinson, Jay Eggleston and (most recently) Brett Banasiewicz helping to spread awareness. Each of those athletes were wearing helmets at the time of their injury; each of those injuries also might have been much, much worse without them.”
Concussion and Mild TBI. Centers For Disease Control An: USA.gov, 2014.N. pag. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Web. 5 Dec. 2014. <http://www.cdc.gov/concussion/>
Bane, Colin. Head Injuries On Rise Despite Helmets. N.p.: ESPN, 2012.Web. 10 Dec. 2014. <http://xgames.espn.go.com/snowboarding/article/8513198/ski-snowboard-head-injuries-increasing-us-helmet-use- new-study-reports>.
Levy, Megan. Sarka Pancochova smashes helmet in spectacular slopestyle crash. N.p.: The Sydney Morning Herald, 2014. Web. 11 Dec. 2014. <http://www.smh.com.au/sport/winter-olympics/sarka-pancochova-smashes-helmet-in-spectacular-slopestyle-crash-20140209- 32arg.html>.
Functional Areas of the Cerebral Cortex. Digital image.CernFoundation.gor. Cern Foundation, n.d. Web. 8 Dec. 2014. <https://cernfoundation.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/Brain-Anatomy-Function.jpg>.