Christopher Dennison, PhD

Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Alberta

Impact severity metric for focal head and diffuse brain injury

(Photo: Richard Siemens)

(Photo: Richard Siemens)

Whether or not today’s helmets protect the wearer from mild diffuse brain injuries, sometimes referred to as concussions, is the topic of intense debate. One of the primary venues for this debate is in the helmet standards and certification community.

Christopher Dennison, recipient of a 2016 Banting Research Foundation Discovery Award (Photo: Laura Sou)

Christopher Dennison, recipient of a 2016 Banting Research Foundation Discovery Award (Photo: Laura Sou)

Typically, debate centers on how helmet test methods might change in response to the emerging knowledge on the biomechanical forces associated with head impact and resulting brain injury. More specifically, exactly how will helmet certification and test methods change, and what impact-severity measures best assess a helmet’s ability to mitigate severity and likelihood of brain injury? Dr Dennison and his colleagues are using data from over 1000 hockey and cycling helmet impacts to develop new metrics suitable for helmet testing relative to brain injury. These metrics may eventually be adopted by standards communities, resulting in testing protocols that assess helmet protection against both severe and mild brain injury.

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Founded in 1925 by supporters of Frederick Banting,
1923 Nobel laureate for the discovery of insulin


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