Types of Helmets
It’s generally accepted that helmets significantly reduce head injuries, however, there is still scepticism about their efficacy in preventing concussion and other traumatic brain injuries (TBIs).1,2 A number of biomechanical forces are involved in head injuries depending on the sport and the mechanism of injury. For this reason, there is a substantial variation in helmet design based on the demands and constraints of each sport.1
For example, hard-shelled helmets, such as football and ski/snowboard helmets, may not be best-suited for protecting against the lower forces that also include a component of rotational acceleration, which are believed to cause the majority of concussions.1 Such helmets are designed to protect the head from penetration and to deform upon impact to absorb the impact energy and reduce head acceleration.2
There are 3 major mechanical forces to consider when determining which helmet is suitable for activities it was not designed for.
Impact - A forceful contact or strike by way of collision.
Crushing - A non-impactful force that squeezes by way of weight or pressure.
Penetration - A piercing force; an object passing through a barrier or substrate.
One Helmet; Many Sports
Some helmets may be used for more than one activity that share common movements or possess similar risks. The mechanical forces described above should be considered when determining if a helmet could be used for an unintended activity. For example, single-impact bike helmets would not be suitable for other sports where impacts would be more frequent, but would be acceptable for skateboarding, scootering, or in-line skating.
Standards & Certifications
Below is a list of activities for which helmets are required, along with their respective minimum standards certifications:
Cricket: British Standard (BSi) - BS7928:2013; NOCSAE NS022
Cycle (standard): CPSC; ANSI, ASTM F1447 or F1898; Snell B90A, B95 or N-94
Cycle (full-face): CPSC; ASTM F2032 or F1952
Field Hockey: CSA; ASTM F-1045; HECC; NOCSAE ND030
Football (American): NOCSAE, ANSI/ISO 17065
Hockey: CSA; ASTM F-1045; HECC; NOCSAE ND030
Ice Skating: CSA; ASTM F-1849-18; HECC
Equestrian: ASTM F1162; SA (Australia); SEI; Snell E-2001
Inline Skate/Scooter: CSA; Snell N-94; CPSC; ASTM F1447 or F1492
Lacrosse: CSA; ASTM F-1045; HECC; NOCSAE ND030
Luge/Sled: Snell M-2005, M-2010, CMS/CMR 2007; DOT FMVSS 218
Climbing: EN-397, EN-12492, UIAA, CE, ISO-9000; Snell N-94
Ringette: CSA; ASTM F-1045; HECC; NOCSAE ND030
Rugby (scrum cap): IRB-Approved
Skateboard: CSA; ANSI; ASTM F1492-15 or F1447; CPSC; Snell N-94
Ski/Snowboard: ASTM F2040; CSA Z263.1; CE EN1077; Snell RS-98
Softball: NOCSAE ND022 (Batter), ND024 (Catcher)
1 Daneshvar, DH., Baugh, CM., Nowinski, CJ., McKee, AC., Stern, RA. and Cantu, RC. Helmets and Mouth Guards: The role of personal equipment in preventing sport-related concussions. Clin Sports Med. 2014 Jan; 30(1): 145-163.
2 Bailly, N., Laporte, JD., Afquir, S., Masson, C., Donnadieu, T., Delay, JB. and Arnoux, PJ. Effect of helmet use on traumatic brain injuries and other head injuries in Alpine Sport. Wilderness & Environmental Med. 2018; 29: 151-158.