What is MIPS?
In early 2018, with an effort to provide state-of-the art safety equipment to equestrian sports, a helmet was released in the United States, which includes MIPS (Multi-Directional Impact Protection System). The low friction layer, better known as MIPS Brain Protection System allows a sliding movement of 10-15 mm, (a little less than the width of a penny) in all directions, reducing rotational motion to the brain during an impact. This low-friction layer is found between the EPS (expanded polystyrene) foam and the pads that make contact to the user’s head. An added layer of safety, the MIPS Brain Protection System creates a way for the rotational force to be absorbed and re-directed rather than transmitted to the brain during impact.
This cutting-edge technology was developed by scientific and medical researchers in Stockholm, Sweden aiming to design a product to make helmets safer. In 1995, brain surgeon, Hans von Holst began to explore how helmets were constructed, which prompted him to begin research on head and neck injury prevention. Teaming up with Peter Halldin, who was the first to receive his PhD in head and neck injury biomechanics, they each dedicated their expertise to the goal of understanding the complete picture from accident to potential injury. The first prototype of a MIPS equipped helmet was tested at the University of Birmingham in 2000, and resulted in the first scientific publication in 2001, showing that MIPS significantly could reduce the rotational acceleration. While this technology might be new to riding helmets on the US market, MIPS has successfully used their Brain Protection System to prevent injuries with bicycle, skiing, and motocross helmets in the United States prior to expanding into the equestrian industry earlier this year.
A 2018 study conducted by Swedish insurance company, Folksam, tested 15 equestrian helmets on the Swedish market showed that helmets containing MIPS performed significantly greater than helmets without this technology. Until recently, riding helmets have been traditionally tested evaluating vertical impacts (e.g. falling directly on top of your head). The Folksam Study tested what happens when a fall occurs at an oblique (or angled) impact since it is rare to fall off vertically. MIPS technology is designed to reduce the risk of head trauma during angled force impacts, which is essential in preventing head injury due to a fall. (Read our blog about the Folksam Study)
In February of 2018, Trauma Void, LLC set out to launch a helmet evolution, with the goal of providing safety at an affordable cost. These helmets incorporate the MIPS Brain Protection System and are ASTM-SEI certified. Learn more about them here.