External membrane in helmets reduces the risk of head injuries

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The Phillips Head Protection System (PHPS) enhances traditional helmet design by adding a specially designed lubricated high-tech polymer membrane over the outside of the helmet. The membrane is designed to slip in a controlled manner over the inner shell of the helmet.   The lubricant and elastic quality of the PHPS membrane on a crash helmet decreases this rotational force and reduces its effect by over 60% in the critical milliseconds following a blow, significantly reducing the head trauma and reducing the risk of traumatic brain injury. The PHPS high-tech polymer membrane was developed together with a specially designed lubricant. The membrane is designed to slip in a controlled manner over the inner shell of the helmet.

Key Differentiators

Conventional helmets including motorbike helmets provide good protection from impact injuries via a hard shell comprised of a rigid thermoplastic or fibre plus a cushioning layer approximately 30mm thick. These aspects remain vital for head safety and protection against linear brain injury. However, they are effective in diffusing only the linear forces and provide no intrinsic protection against the even more important area of rotational injury from head accidents which causes severe and untreatable brain damage. Exhaustive tests performed on the first commercial implementation of the PHPS by LAZER Helmets SA verified that upon head impact the LAZER SuperSkin helmet reduced the risk of intracerebral shearing by 67.5%.

Biomimicry Story

The inventor of the PHPS, Dr Ken Phillips, looked to nature for his inspiration. He realised that although the thick bone of the skull provides much of the direct protection against a severe blow, the skin on the outside acts as further protection whenever the head receives an impact. Conventional head protection systems and safety wear only protect against part of the danger from head impacts and thus only address half of the problem. 

Challenges Solved

If a head is hit it always rotates, causing the brain to rotate within the skull and tearing the veins. This causes bleeding which results in a subdural haematoma. This sort of injury can go unnoticed as there are often no signs of damage on the outside of the head. It is also an injury which is effectively untreatable. Rotational head injury is startlingly common, but often under-recognised as a threat.  It is the main cause of brain injury in boxing and a principal cause of brain injury from motorcycle and motor vehicle accidents. In the case of a motorcycle helmet, at the point when a helmet hits the road and during the critical milliseconds following that impact the PHPS membrane essentially forms an additional interface between the helmet and the tarmac.  It decreases the friction of the helmet surface by moving and sliding over the hard shell. The rider’s head therefore slips and slides over the road surface instead of sharply and immediately twisting around. This significantly reduces the head trauma and the risk of traumatic brain injury.

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