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One helmet away from serious injury

Posted by Back on Track Representative on
One helmet away from serious injury

When Lena Öhlin carefully got up after the impact, she had no idea how extensive her injuries were. All she felt was pain, coldness and a tingling sensation all over her body. She was in the middle of the woods, on 2 April 2022 - and she had just been thrown from her horse. Fortunately, she had her mobile phone with her and was able to call for help.  
It was only at the hospital that doctors discovered nine broken ribs, a broken collarbone and a broken shoulder blade. She was also badly bruised from head to toe. Yet everyone agreed that she had gotten off lightly: her head was intact - and her brain was unscathed.   
Lena is convinced that the helmet meant everything. The difference between life and death. Or the difference between an (admittedly painful) time of recovery and a life forever changed.   
One helmet away from serious injury
Image: Lena's helmet after the accident. The damage from the hard impact is clearly visible on the outside, but the inside was able to absorb the forces and protect the head. This time, the end was a happy one.  
Lena Öhlin is a stable manager, riding instructor and breeder. She lives her life surrounded by horses, has a deep knowledge of them and long experience. But anyone can be thrown off a horse, at any time - and then suddenly everything depends on the protective equipment.  
Two weeks after the accident, Lena is still in a lot of pain and her days are filled with follow-up medical appointments, further X-rays and physiotherapy. She has a long period of rest and healing ahead of her. But, as aforementioned; it could have been worse. Once it became clear how much the helmet had meant to the outcome of the accident, Lena realised she wanted to share her new, painfully acquired knowledge and hopefully make a difference in the lives of other people. Her joyful enthusiasm shines through the story of her injuries.  
"Everyone needs to buy a helmet like this!" she says emphatically. "It stayed on my head the whole time and didn't move! I want people to know that."  
Lena remembers the blow to her head very well. The helmet - a Lynx model - withstood the impact and remained firmly in place until the paramedics removed it. Everything else broke or was cut open by medical staff. Now she is happy to tell everyone around her how important it is to prioritise safety, to wear a really reliable helmet as well as high-quality equipment.  

Best in Test - with enhanced protection from Mips 

"I chose the helmet because Folksam [a leading Swedish insurance company] recommended it," she says. "It was 'Best in Test' in their own, independent survey."   
However, Lena was not aware at the time that she had also chosen a helmet with an integrated Mips system. Mips (Multi Directional Impact System) is a Swedish invention, designed to further increase safety by absorbing some of the rotational forces to which the head is subjected after a diagonal impact. The system is fitted inside the helmet and consists of two layers that can move slightly, independently of each other. The effect is to reduce the risk that the kinetic energy generated by a hard, oblique blow will cause tearing inside the gelatinous substance of the brain. When it comes to the brain, very small differences can have big, significant consequences.  
The helmet is now discarded - it is important to always replace a helmet that has been subjected to an impact! - and sent to us at Back on Track, so we can see for ourselves what a helmet looks like when it has really done its job.   

Facts about Mips 

MIPS is a Swedish invention that improves the safety of all types of helmets. The system is mounted at the upper part of the helmet, and consists of two layers that can move independently of each other. This allows the inside of the helmet to move slightly in the direction of the rotational force, if the head receives an oblique blow.  
A standard riding helmet protects the head by absorbing the energy of a hard hit using several layers of material. Helmets are often tested by simulating impacts head-on against the helmet. This works excellently if the helmet is of good quality; the shock is spread through the layers of materials and distributed over the helmet. The head will not break, even if the helmet does.  
A helmet with Mips works in the same way - but also adds a system to absorb the forces that occur when the head is subjected to an oblique impact. A blow from an angle contains kinetic energy that also has a direction. A hard, oblique blow causes the head to be violently jolted following the impact, exposing the brain to rotational violence.   
The sudden motion of the head may cause the brain to suffer a contortion. Impacts with rotation are the most damaging  
Forces of this kind can have severe consequences, leading to major damage by subjecting the brain to internal tearing. The brain is particularly sensitive to deformation of this type, and the shock-absorbing fluid around the brain is not enough to compensate for a blow that contains a lot of kinetic energy.   
This is where Mips becomes effective - by enhancing the protection offered by the cerebrospinal fluid. Like the fluid-filled space inside of the skull, Mips absorbs some of the forces of rapid rotation. When the head can move in the direction of the movement, inside of the helmet, the forces affecting the brain become slightly less abrupt. Hence, Mips take into account both the physiological characteristics of the brain and the way physical forces act upon it. Thanks to these qualities, Mips can help mitigate the consequences of an accident.   
At Back on Track, we have always focused on safety. In fact, we were among the very first to integrate MIPS (Multi-directional Impact Protection System) into our riding helmets. This means that our helmets have now been extra safe for 15 years - something that usually places us either first or as a "good choice" in independent tests.  

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