Many equestrian helmets don’t protect against brain injury, new study says
Horseback riders are at a high risk of getting a brain injury. The first study that tests equestrian helmets for their ability to protect riders has just been released by Virginia Tech’s helmet laboratory, which has been rating sports helmets for over a decade. This is the first time they’ve tested equestrian helmets.
“When we results were released we had over 100,000 unique visitors to the website in just a couple of days,” said Stefan Duma, professor of engineering at Virginia Tech, and co-founder of the laboratory. “And that’s about 10 times more than any other sport, when we released those ratings.”
Only two equestrian helmets received five-star ratings, and several were rated one star, and not recommended.
“Some of the helmets are not very good," said Duma.
Cost doesn’t necessarily reflect performance. One of the five star helmets costs $58, and one of the one-star helmets cost $449.
Equestrian riders visit emergency room for brain injuries at higher rates than other sports, according to Duma.
“Almost every person who’s ridden a horse has come off a horse,” Duma said. “So when you think about the height, there’s a lot of energy, so when you come down on the ground, the head impact can be quite dangerous.”
Duma said he hopes more helmet manufacturers will improve their designs to offer more padding in the next couple of years.
You can find more details about the ratings here.
This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.