The latest in bike helmet design is a Multi-Directional Impact Protection System (MIPS), patented by a Swedish company. It is a relatively simple technological concept based on a lot of hard-core science. The purpose of the MIPS liner is to allow your head to move within the helmet.
If you hit the ground the change in direction of force causes your brain to bash inside your skull leading to damage, swelling and bleeding. Sliding is better for your head, and brain as it reduces rotational forces on impact, believed to be the main mechanism leading to brain injury and concussion.
Why is MIPS technology better during a crash?
MIPS helmets feature a patented slip plane concept, two slick layers within the helmet to help the head rotate slightly on impact. In a way it mimics the protective layer of fluid around our brain which nature had already designed for this purpose, but may be nature hadn’t planned for us going 20mph on a bicycle. When considering what happens in a crash it is not just the impact that counts but the angle to the ground and the rotational forces as you fall.
How can I tell whether or not a helmet uses MIPS?
MIPS technology is in use by nearly all the major helmet manufacturers and can be identified by a yellow logo on the helmet and packaging. The more rounded design of helmets currently on the market is not just down to fashion trends, the rounder, slicker shape of today’s helmets not only allow the outer shell to slide on the ground but are needed to accommodate the addition of MIPS technology inside the helmet.
MIPS have a whole host of Research and Design data to back up the benefits and although MIPS adds £20-£30 to the cost of a helmet, at the moment, this will reduce over time. Right now it is the best helmet protection system available and when it comes to your brain, it is a worthwhile investment.