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Old     (veritas)      Join Date: Mar 2008       04-17-2008, 5:38 PM Reply   
As some of you know I am currently writing paper on whether helmets are beneficial in wakeboarding where sliders are not involved.

I don't want to start up the whole topic, but want to get one thing straight.

Most of you say that wearing helmets is a bad idea because the helmet increases surface area, thus increasing deceleration of the head.
Yet, many of you say you wear a helmet when riding a bike or a motorcycle or skateboarding.

You're telling me that when you hit a solid object (i.e. pavement) that there is LESS deceleration than when you hit the water?

Where is the logic in this? If a helmet can save your life when you slam into a solid object at 50+ mph then why can't it when you hit a fluid at say even 35?

It makes no sense to me. If you were saying don't wear a helmet because it can increase the risk of a neck injury, thats fine. But not increase concussions.

I do apologize for reopening this topic but I need to know if I am just crazy, or if what I said makes sense.
Old     (jtnz)      Join Date: Sep 2007       04-17-2008, 6:17 PM Reply   
Any time you land on your head you can hurt your neck... Helmet or not.
Old     (veritas)      Join Date: Mar 2008       04-17-2008, 6:42 PM Reply   
I agree with you. What I'm saying is in regards to concussions...and why people think the risk increases.
Old     (jtnz)      Join Date: Sep 2007       04-17-2008, 7:29 PM Reply   
Yeah I see what you mean. Covering up the soft spots on your head with something hard helps prevent direct brain injuries.

Acceleration/decelaration brain injuries are a little bit different. I am skeptical about whether the deceleration force of the water on the helmet can actually cause a brain injury of that type. Then again I'm not a doctor, and I only have a limited understanding of biomechanics.

I guess if you generated enough torque (like when catching an edge, the force generated by the leverage, the lever being your body at full/nearly full standing height, is far greater than just falling out of the sky on your head) you might do that kind of injury even when wearing a helmet, but without a helmet you won't be any better off...

I would say in the long run a helmet isn't designed to stop your brain bouncing around. It's designed to stop you bruising/fracturing/injuring your skull.

(Message edited by jtnz on April 17, 2008)
Old     (veritas)      Join Date: Mar 2008       04-18-2008, 5:32 AM Reply   
Yeah, what I'm saying is why do people say that helmets wouldn't work in a situation with water deceleration, but a helmet WILL work when a solid object (like the ground/wall/car) is involved. Yes, the water creates massive deceleration, but hitting a wall headfirst with a helmet on has a more instantaneous deceleration (your current speed to 0 in virtually NO time), and thus, has more potential to cause a concussion. However, when wearing a helmet (such as a motorcycle helmet) injuries can be limited substantially.

My question is this: If a helmet works when the deceleration is at its greatest, (current speed to 0 virtually instantly), what makes you say a helmet wouldnt help on the water when deceleration happens at a lesser rate?

A helmet may increase torque on the neck, and thus, create more neck injuries, but I personally would rather have a sore neck than a concussion (and a slightly-less-sore neck) after a hard fall.
Old    shredready            04-18-2008, 6:57 AM Reply   
I think the argument is that the increased size < surface area of the helmet, would increase the rate of deceleartion then not wearing a helmet at all.

The question is if the increased deceleartion due to wearing is beyond what benefit the energy absorbing foam will absorb.

However, I know of no experiments that have studied. Would make a nice senior thesis though

in the world of physics deceleration is deceleration regardless of the surface that is being impacted.

So with helmets you have to increase the time between when the helmet hits a surface, and the time the head impacts the inside of the shell from the foam crushing. Thus, decelerating the head over a longer time than the helmet is stopped. This time lag is one of the variables in helmet design besides many others.
Old     (wakerider111)      Join Date: Jul 2006       04-18-2008, 8:11 AM Reply   
Water is definitely a whole different medium to work with. impact on water is different from an impact on a hard surface. helmets are mainly designed for acute injuries against hard surfaces. I would have to say, It is better to have a concussion than to have your head mashed and split open. water is not gona split your head open.

When LIMITING impacts to water (wake riding with no sliders and other obstacles) wearing of helmets becomes debatable. There WILL be an increased deceleration with a helmet (if you need to, create and absurd image in your mind of a 10 ft diameter helmet to see how this works), BUT how significant it will be is questionable. also, as tom said, there is a question of whether or not the foam inside the helmet is enough to compensate for any POTENTIAL significant increase in deceleration, due to the increased size of the head. Speed of impact i am sure makes some different scenarios too... just to complicate things further. Also there is concern about the lip of helmets (especially if not sized well) catching water and creating a "bucketing effect" like a parachute, slowing the head even more. My guess is that a neoprene extension from the bottom, fitting tightly like a scuba neo-hood-cap would help here.

You can use some of the info i have gathered and posted on W.W.. I have talked to a lot of people about the topic and have got no sure answers except a common agreement that lab tests need to be done to confirm things. I talked to, Neurologist (wakeboards too), anatomy professor, orthopedics professor, bio mechanics professor, physics, and fluid mechanics professors.
look up the journal (i've only looked at the abstract) i found that stated that there were more head injuries in wakeboarders than skiers and that this constituted need of head protection for wakeboarders.

check these if you have not already
there are tons other threads on it, just do a search

Sorry if this is a lot of info and jabber, its just how i am, but i am sure it is to your desire ;)

good luck with the report!
I'd love to hear about what comes of it.

p.s. i am making a thin soft shelled helmet from supplies around the home. it's kinda my way of taking the middle ground between helmet and no helmet... at least until some real data is over turned. I am rather proud of it so far, despite its cheap construction on a low budget. i will post pics and details when it is finished
Old     (veritas)      Join Date: Mar 2008       04-18-2008, 8:19 AM Reply   
Def want to see the pics and details. I'm also trying to contact a couple helmet companies as they should be able to help somewhat. One who replied said that no actual water testing had been used on their helmets- so I just replied asking why not? If they could prove that THEIR helmets will help reduce the chance of concussions they could boost their sales exponentially...So WHY HAVENT THEY CONDUCTED THESE STUDIES?

At the very least if I can get a few companies to look more into it, or get some more cold hard facts I will be happy with however my paper turns out. I used the article on this site about concussions and helmets that was posted a while ago, and I have also contacted a number of people whose input in certain threads I found intelligent. That way I can quote them directly in my paper.

I'll definitely post it up, it won't be too long. My draft is due this coming Thursday, so I'll have it up by Friday. Only 3-5 pages, so it'll be more of an intro to the topic and the limited info I've found to support wearing a helmet.

(Message edited by veritas on April 18, 2008)
Old     (wakedoctor)      Join Date: Dec 2004       04-18-2008, 8:34 AM Reply   
You should always wear head protection when on a bike ect. The padding in a helmet is meant to cushion the impact. This slows down the time it takes your "gord" come to a complete stop. Concussions result out of what we call a secondary collision. During any kind of trauma, say a car wreck, the first collision is the impact of your body against the steering wheel/dash ect. The secondary collision is when your organs make impact and come to a stop (your brain will strike the skull and cause swelling). When you are on the water you have an opposite affect than you would on a bike. The cushioning and the helmet size will actually increase the time it takes for your head to come to a stop. Hence higher possiblity of concussion.

To put it more simple think of it this way. When you are falling on cement the helmet is to serve as a cushion because it is softer than the cement. When on water the helmet is actually more dense or harder than the water, so you are hindering what will actually cushion you.
Old     (innov8)      Join Date: May 2005       04-18-2008, 9:38 AM Reply   
I haven't had 1 concussion, since I started riding with a helmet, so it works great for me.
Old     (jpod)      Join Date: Feb 2006       04-18-2008, 9:47 AM Reply   
i thought i heard that wearing the helmet while wake riding increased the chance of neck injury and thats the reason for it being bad on the water and less to do with brain damage.
Old     (jason_ssr)      Join Date: Apr 2001       04-18-2008, 10:05 AM Reply   
Three things to consider:

One, is bucketing, where the lip of the helmet catches the water and stresses the neck.

Two, is compression. Which do you think compresses least, dirt, wood, or water? Hitting water is worse than hitting dirt or wood.

Three, is surface area. Have you ever taken a hard fall and just had a slight bell ringer? It because you took a glancing blow. However, if you add more surface area, you may protect yourself from some lethal falls, but you may increase the number of injuries as some of those glancing blows will be made more serious.

Wakeboarding is a coin toss every time you go. You may manipulate the risk by wearing certain helmets or certain vests. However, you never reduce the risk, you just reshuffle it.
Old     (innov8)      Join Date: May 2005       04-18-2008, 11:20 AM Reply   
Then why was I getting 1 to 2 concussion's a season when I diden't wear a helmet and since I started riding in a helmet I haven't had 1 in three seasons?

Its not just me either, all my friends and everyone I ride with it has been the same for them.
Not to mention all my customers that have bought helmets feel the same way as I do.
I have not had 1 friend or customer get hurt because of wearing a helmet, but have had many that did not wearing a helmet.

Is there anyone on this forum that can say that they have had any injuries because of wearing a helmet while wakeboarding?
Old     (wakedoctor)      Join Date: Dec 2004       04-18-2008, 12:42 PM Reply   
Let me add something to this that I forgot to in my first post. I am not on a side when it comes to the wake helmet discussion. I don't wear a helmet and have never had problems so I can't really test the helmet theory. I was just stating what others have told me and what I have read. I do see were the neck injury comes into play, usually neck injuries are a result of head injuries.
Old     (jason_ssr)      Join Date: Apr 2001       04-18-2008, 1:06 PM Reply   
I rode for a decade 5 days a week, year round, and I never got a concussion. Took some HARD spills too. Never wore a helmet. Ive only known one person with a bucketing related injury. They are super-rare in wakeboarding. I think bucketing gets so much play because they are more common in kayaking, and its they kayaking industry that wake helmets evolved from.

Innov8, it could just be that youre getting better at riding! haha!
Old     (innov8)      Join Date: May 2005       04-18-2008, 1:27 PM Reply   
Nope I still suck!!
Old     (veritas)      Join Date: Mar 2008       04-18-2008, 6:30 PM Reply   
Quote: Craig Cox
The cushioning and the helmet size will actually increase the time it takes for your head to come to a stop. Hence higher possiblity of concussion.

To put it more simple think of it this way. When you are falling on cement the helmet is to serve as a cushion because it is softer than the cement. When on water the helmet is actually more dense or harder than the water, so you are hindering what will actually cushion you.


So Craig, your telling me that if you INCREASE the time it takes for your head to slow that it will increase the chance of a concussion? As far as I know, you get a concussion when your head rapidly decelerates. Otherwise, when i move my head from side to side slowly, I have more of a chance of getting a concussion than when I whip it back and forth?


And I thought we all agree that water is practically cement at fall speeds?

Negatives of helmet: Increase in surface area.
Potential for bucketing (though very low)
Possible increase in neck injuries depending on the fall

POSITIVES: Increase in protection from rigid objects.
PADDING. You can't deny that padding will help to absorb some of the force, as well as help slow deceleration of the head.
Generally LESS drag depending on the fall. Sleek plastic is much more aerodynamic than hair and lumpy heads. The same reason you want a smooth hull on your decreases drag vs a slimy bottom.

Anything else?
Old     (veritas)      Join Date: Mar 2008       04-19-2008, 10:06 AM Reply   
Man have I just gotten some serious wealth. Information wise, of course (I'm still poor).

Wayne over at is actually the founder of VOZ and still designs his helmets. He's given me a ton of information, and a drive to find out more on the helmet situation. I'll post up the information later once I've got it more organized and have done a little more research myself.
Old     (wakerider111)      Join Date: Jul 2006       04-19-2008, 12:34 PM Reply   
sweet news justin!

also, i should have details of my soft shell helmet tonight or tomorrow. It is basically finished i just need to put some added garnishing touches on it so the cheap construction is less noticeable... better presentation with less possibility of laughs from the ww community ;)
Old     (wake_upppp)      Join Date: Nov 2003       04-19-2008, 6:06 PM Reply   
I'm with innov8 with identical personal experiences with helmets including myself and others that ride with me. And so far no injuries we can pin on wearing a helmet...
Old     (nevada_champ)      Join Date: Nov 2007       04-19-2008, 7:08 PM Reply   
I don't think it matters. No matter what you can get the same injuries. So not wearing a helmet in any sport can kill you and wearing one in any sport can kill you
Old     (joe_crawley)      Join Date: Jan 2007       04-19-2008, 8:25 PM Reply   
I can't believe we keep having this conversation. I started wearing a helmet a 3 years ago because of repeated ear drum punctures. Since then I haven't had a single bad fall onto my head- I used to have almost a half dozen a year where my head would hurt from smacking my forehead, back of the head, or top of my head. I would NEVER wakeboard again without a helmet because of how comfortable it is to know I'm not going to get a concussion. This discussion is just as dumb as a discussion on whether bike helmets work.
Old     (veritas)      Join Date: Mar 2008       04-19-2008, 8:47 PM Reply   
Actually I hope to start moving this discussion from whether helmets are beneficial to which helmets are best for wakeboarding circumstances. Wayne at VOZ told me that a number of major helmet companies use single impact liner materials that, once you have a bad fall, compress and stay compressed- thus making the helmet useless. And dangerous. I'm going to research what companies use these liners, and try to research what other materials are used.

I apologize that I'm a bit slow getting the research done and posting up the info Wayne gave me...I've just been really busy the past few days, and things aren't likely to slow down for a few weeks (once schools done).

Will try to get the info I've gathered so far posted up on Monday!
Old     (andy13)      Join Date: Apr 2007       04-19-2008, 10:41 PM Reply   
i didnt really read everyones posts and someone prolly covered this but, helmets on pavement protect more from the abrasion caused by sliding your head across a highly abrasive and hard surface. sliding your head riding your bike full speed on asphalt you would have more damage done by the tearing and seperation of flesh from your skull than the impact. also impacts on a fluid surface such as water and an asphalt surface are very different. where water at 20-25 mph is very hard and can hurt, it does give way to your noggin as it crashes through. whereas asphalt doesnot give way and your neck and back compresses more and your skin is torn from your skull and your head immediatly stops on the impact of hitting the asphalt.

anyway that is my 2 cents take it or leave it
Old     (phantom5815)      Join Date: Jul 2002       04-20-2008, 6:10 AM Reply   
This is an explanation of what happens to the grey matter thats housed inside of the glasshouse - regardless of helmet.
( you may register to get full article.)

Author Information Introduction Relevant Anatomy And Contraindications Workup Treatment Complications Outcome And Prognosis Future And Controversies Bibliography
Relevant Anatomy: Several aspects of neuroanatomy and neurophysiology require review in a discussion of TBI. Although a comprehensive review of neuroanatomy is beyond the scope of this discussion, a few key concepts are reviewed.

The brain essentially floats within the CSF; as a result, the brain can undergo significant translation and deformation when the head is subjected to significant forces. In a deceleration injury, in which the head impacts a stationary object such as the windshield of a car, the skull stops moving almost instantly. However, the brain continues to move within the skull toward the direction of the impact for a very brief period after the head has stopped moving. This results in significant forces acting on the brain as it undergoes both translation and deformation.

In an acceleration injury, as in a direct blow to the head, the force applied to the skull causes the skull to move away from the applied force. The brain does not move with the skull, and the skull impacts the brain, causing translation and deformation of the brain. The forces that result from either deceleration or acceleration of the brain can cause injury by direct mechanical effects on the various cellular components of the brain or by shear-type forces on axons. In addition to the translational forces, the brain can experience significant rotational forces, which can also lead to shear injuries.

The intracranial compartment is divided into 3 compartments by 2 major dural structures, the falx cerebri and the tentorium cerebelli. The tentorium cerebelli divides the posterior fossa or infratentorial compartment (the cerebellum and the brainstem) from the supratentorial compartment (cerebral hemispheres). The falx cerebri divides the supratentorial compartment into 2 halves and separates the left and right hemispheres of the brain. Both the falx and the tentorium have central openings and prominent edges at the borders of each of these openings. When a significant increase in ICP occurs, caused by either a large mass lesion or significant cerebral edema, the brain can slide through these openings within the falx or the tentorium, a phenomenon known as herniation. As the brain slides over the free dural edges of the tentorium or the falx, it is frequently injured by the dural edge.

Several types of herniation exist, as follows: (1) transtentorial herniation, (2) subfalcine herniation, (3) central herniation, (4) upward herniation, and (5) tonsillar herniation.

Transtentorial herniation occurs when the medial aspect of the temporal lobe (uncus) migrates across the free edge of the tentorium. This causes pressure on the third cranial nerve, interrupting parasympathetic input to the eye and resulting in a dilated pupil. This unilateral dilated pupil is the classic sign of transtentorial herniation and usually (80%) occurs ipsilateral to the side of the transtentorial herniation. In addition to pressure on the third cranial nerve, transtentorial herniation compresses the brainstem.

Subfalcine herniation occurs when the cingulate gyrus on the medial aspect of the frontal lobe is displaced across the midline under the free edge of the falx. This may compromise the blood flow through the anterior cerebral artery complexes, which are located on the medial side of each frontal lobe. Subfalcine herniation does not cause the same brainstem effects as those caused by transtentorial herniation.

Central herniation occurs when a diffuse increase in ICP occurs and each of the cerebral hemispheres is displaced through the tentorium, resulting in significant pressure on the upper brainstem.

Upward, or cerebellar, herniation occurs when either a large mass or increased pressure in the posterior fossa is present and the cerebellum is displaced in an upward direction through the tentorial opening. This also causes significant upper brainstem compression.

Tonsillar herniation occurs when increased pressure develops in the posterior fossa. In this form of herniation, the cerebellar tonsils are displaced in a downward direction through the foramen magnum, causing compression on the lower brainstem and upper cervical spinal cord as they pass through the foramen magnum.

Another aspect of the intracranial anatomy that has a significant role in TBI is the irregular surface of the skull underlying the frontal and temporal lobes. These surfaces contain numerous ridges that can cause injury to the inferior aspect of the frontal lobes and the temporal lobes as the brain glides over these irregular ridges following impact. Typically, these ridges cause cerebral contusions. The roof of the orbit has many ridges, and, as a result, the inferior frontal lobe is one of the most common sites of traumatic cerebral contusions.
Old     (phantom5815)      Join Date: Jul 2002       04-20-2008, 6:30 AM Reply   
The most recent article I found in Medscape was printed 2005 comparing waterskiing & wakeboarding injuries fro 2001-03.

Characteristics of water skiing-related and wakeboarding-related injuries treated in emergency departments in the United States, 2001-2003.
Am J Sports Med. 2005; 33(7):1065-70 (ISSN: 0363-5465)

Hostetler SG ; Hostetler TL ; Smith GA ; Xiang H
Center for Injury Research and Policy, Columbus Children's Hospital, 700 Children's Drive, Columbus, OH 43205, USA.

BACKGROUND: Water skiing and wakeboarding are popular sports with high potential for injury due to rapid boat acceleration, lack of protective gear, and waterway obstacles. However, trends in water skiing- and wakeboarding-related injuries in the United States have not been described using national data. HYPOTHESIS: The number of injuries, injury diagnoses, and body regions injured vary by sport. STUDY DESIGN: Descriptive epidemiology study. METHODS: Data regarding water skiing- and wakeboarding-related injuries presenting to 98 hospital emergency departments in the United States between January 1, 2001, and December 31, 2003, were extracted from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System. Data included demographics, injury diagnosis, and body region injured. RESULTS: Data were collected for 517 individuals with water skiing-related injuries and 95 individuals with wakeboarding-related injuries. These injuries represent an estimated 23 460 water skiing- and 4810 wakeboarding-related injuries treated in US emergency departments in 2001 to 2003. Head injuries represented the largest percentage of injuries for wakeboarders (28.8% of all injuries) and the smallest percentage for water skiers (4.3%) (P < .01; relative risk [95% confidence interval], 6.73 [3.89-11.66]). Analysis of injury diagnosis was consistent as wakeboarders had significantly more traumatic brain injuries (12.5% of all injuries) than did water skiers (2.4%) (P < .05; relative risk [95% confidence interval], 5.27 [2.21-12.60]). Strains or sprains were the leading injury diagnoses for water skiing (36.3% of all injuries), and the majority (55.7%) were to the lower extremity. Lacerations were the most common diagnoses for wakeboarders (31.1% of all injuries), and the majority (59.6%) were to the face. CONCLUSION: The analyses of water skiing- and wakeboarding-related injuries treated in US emergency departments in 2001 to 2003 highlight the differences in injury patterns for these 2 sports. The substantial number of head and facial injuries among wakeboarders underscores the need for research on the potential role of helmets or other protective gear to reduce these common injuries.

Hopefully there will be studies soon to be released if someone followed through with the recommendation/suggestion.
Old     (veritas)      Join Date: Mar 2008       04-20-2008, 6:58 AM Reply   
That was printed in '05...I doubt if nothing has come out yet that there will be anything, at any point.

Thats why I am pursuing this myself. Once I have done all my research etc (which will probably take a few months) on materials used, how each perform, actual helmet structure, fit, etc etc I plan to do more research on the standards that helmet must meet and why they must be met. Then I will pick apart the standards and find the good and the bad, as the standards definitely aren't up to par. Wayne at VOZ said that the standards that helmet manufacturers must follow are based on one thing: survival at the highest possible impact speed that a wakeboarder might hit the water. This means that since they try to use thin foam, it will be fairly hard and ONLY absorb impact in a high speed collision. At low speeds it would be like putting a hard plastic bucket on your head and running into a wall- not good.

As I said, I need to do more research to confirm whats he's told me, as well as to find out more. Eventually, once I have all of the information I'm trying to get I will definitely be writing either a longer paper or an article that will be sent to every major helmet manufacturer, and any and all wakeboard magazines I can find, and to Dave here at WW in case he finds it beneficial.
Old     (phantom5815)      Join Date: Jul 2002       04-20-2008, 7:09 AM Reply   
If you read the 1st article I posted ,it will give you a better idea of what happens with the brain inside of its boney structure.

In an acceleration injury, as in a direct blow to the head, the force applied to the skull causes the skull to move away from the applied force. The brain does not move with the skull, and the skull impacts the brain, causing translation and deformation of the brain. The forces that result from either deceleration or acceleration of the brain can cause injury by direct mechanical effects on the various cellular components of the brain or by shear-type forces on axons. In addition to the translational forces, the brain can experience significant rotational forces, which can also lead to shear injuries.

There is no helmet that is going to stop that.
Like I said at end of my last article- Hopefully there will be studies soon to be released if someone followed through with the recommendation/suggestion
Being it is closing in on 3 yrs after that article and it take about 3 yrs to gather information for a research paper to be submitted published and presented.

(Message edited by phantom5815 on April 20, 2008)
Old     (wakerider111)      Join Date: Jul 2006       04-20-2008, 2:43 PM Reply   
HERE IT IS! my "soft shelled" wake helmet

Old     (veritas)      Join Date: Mar 2008       04-20-2008, 7:57 PM Reply   
The point of the helmet is to ABSORB some of that applied force, so less of it is actually applied to the skull.

As well as to protect in the event of a collision with a solid object- which about 50% of wakeboarding injuries to the head involve (lacerations).


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