What is MIPS®? How does it work? What is different about a MIPS® helmet?

There are so many questions about MIPS technology - it's new to equestrian helmets and while there are a few options on the market it's still in its infancy. The information below is to help you understand why we have launched a helmet with MIPS® technology and to help you understand how MIPS® works.

First, some stats about equestrian head injuries - no one likes to think or talk about this, but it is important information to know. This information has come from a few sources, once of which was the USHJA conference in 2016 where concussions and head injuries were a main topic of discussion.

  • “Horse people need to understand they have the highest rates of concussion, in any sport, anywhere in the world” Michael Turner, M.B.B.S., FFSEM, M.D
  • 45% of all the patients who are admitted to a hospital with a sports-related traumatic brain injury are equestrians – this stat comes from a study that compared medical data for 9 years at hospitals across the US. Link to study: https://thejns.org/focus/view/journals/neurosurg-focus/40/4/article-pE4.xml
  • USEF stewards have been collecting fall/accident information at shows, and have the following stats to share:
    • 65% of head injuries at horse shows occurred in conjunction with a jumping effort and 89% were injured while preparing for a class or competing
    • Hunter/jumper, eventing and dressage rank first, second and third respectively in the raw number of concussions

Even though equestrians don't fall off very often, when we do fall, the likelihood of a traumatic brain injury or concussion is much higher than it is in other sports.

Concussions have been a pretty hot topic lately because we are starting to realize how detrimental they are and we know that more research needs to be done. Lots of sports associations are putting more regulations in place to make sure an athlete is not risking serious repercussions by going back to their sport too soon. Concussion symptoms don't always appear right away so it can be difficult to manage this, but the severity of a concussion can be life changing so we all need to be better informed and do what we can to prevent these types of injuries.

So, what is a concussion exactly? How do you know if you or someone else has a concussion, and what should you do about it?

  • A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury caused by a sudden movement that causes the head and brain to move rapidly back and forth or twist in the skull (rotational motion), creating chemical changes in the brain and sometimes stretching and damaging brain cells.
  • Symptoms of a concussion include nausea, dizziness, headache, blurred vision and concentration or memory problems
  • Loss of consciousness only occurs about 9% of the time
  • Concussion symptoms may be slow to appear and it’s recommended that anyone with a suspected concussion should dismount or remain dismounted for a "time-out"
  • See a doctor if you think there is even a remote possibility of a concussion
  • More and more studies are showing that the effect of concussions is cumulative, decreasing overall cognitive and memory function
  • Someone who has suffered one concussion is 4-6 times more likely to suffer another
    • Keeping track of head injuries throughout a lifetime is especially important
  • If you have a concussion, when is it safe to get back on your horse?
    • Most concussion symptoms resolve in a week, but some will last much longer. Working with your doctor to determine the right time to get back on is advisable.
    • Today, doctors recommend “Active Rest” to recover
      • After symptoms fade, easing into increasing activity and going back to rest if the symptoms reappear is advised.
      • It could take a day or much longer for symptoms to fade  but is advised to wait to ride during this time. Make sure you’re back to normal activity before getting back on your horse and that you have your doctor's consent.

It's pretty clear that wearing a helmet during equestrian sports is important, but what is different about a MIPS helmet?

  • Most available helmets today are designed to prevent severe traumatic brain injuries, or TBIs.”, “Tests are based on protecting the brain against skull fractures and severe injury. They are not designed to prevent concussion. Concussion is acceleration/deceleration.” Lola Chambless, M.D, USHJA Annual Meeting, 2016
  • Standard helmets are thought to reduce TBIs by around 50%
  • MIPS is a form of slip plane technology, meaning that a MIPS helmet is constructed from two layers that rotate against each other, mimicking the rotation of the brain’s own cerebrospinal fluid, which is the body’s natural defense against oblique impacts
  • The MIPS slip plane allows movement of the helmet by 10 - 15mm, which which reduces the risk for rotational motion otherwise transmitted to the brain.
  • This rotational motion is what causes concussions and other traumatic brain injuries.
  • The outer layer of a helmet with the MIPS slip plane (yellow liner) is made from the same impact-absorbing EPS material as a conventional helmet.
    • The MIPS slip plane is connected via an elastomeric attachment system to a low friction inner layer (helmet liner), which is what rests on the rider’s head.
    • In a crash, the outer shell of a MIPS helmet absorbs linear impact, while the inner layer rotates up to 15 mm, deflecting rotational motion.