|Cameron Stuart graduated from the Biomedical Engineering Program with a Master of Applied Science in May 2017. Below is a short summary of his thesis that he successfully defended in April 2017.|
Snow Sport Head Injury: Characterization of Clinical Presentation and Design of a Relevant Head impact Apparatus
With head injury being the leading cause of death from skiing and snowboarding in North America, a better understanding of the mechanisms at play and improved preventative measures are necessary. Safety certification standards exist for snow sport helmets in an effort to evaluate potential technologies as well as ensure helmets offer protection to the user. However, current protocols are seen to be oversimplifications of real world head impacts. The purpose of this work is to characterize snow sport head injury and design a test apparatus capable of representing these real world head impact scenarios. Through investigation of 760+ medical records from skiers and snowboarders who hit their head’s, the nature and severity of injuries sustained was described. Among other important findings, the data highlighted several general fall scenarios and a high prevalence of concussion. This information, in conjunction with existing literature, informed the design of a helmet testing apparatus capable of recreating snow sport head impact scenarios. A final apparatus was designed, fabricated and evaluated to verify the design, resulting in a test rig capable of more representative impacts. Aspects of this work can be adopted by the head injury research and helmet standards communities in order to improve design and evaluation of preventative equipment.