Original Post: A new helmet armed with revolutionary brain cooling technology could save the lives of many motorcyclists each year. MCM investigates…
Accidents happen. On a motorcycle, we all do as much as we can to avoid them in the first place. But no matter how careful a rider we are, some of us do come off. Sadly, over 6000 motorcyclists are killed or seriously injured in the UK each year and head injuries occur in 80% of all motorcyclist fatalities. A major factor in these injuries is the brain swelling inside the cranium and the response time in addressing this.
ThermaHelm has been developed to help with this issue by rapidly cooling a rider’s head immediately after an accident, keeping brain swelling under control.
How does it work?
Take a normal motorcycle helmet. The polystyrene foam lining used in them is the perfect energy absorber (hence why it’s chosen) but is also an insulator. In the event of an accident, a helmet can act like an oven to a rider’s head, causing, according to ThermaHelm, “post-accident brain temperatures to potentially reach a fatal threshold. This is how motorcycle riders can die”.
ThermaHelm works by immediately cooling the rider’s head on impact, limiting neurological damage and brain swelling by regulating the brain’s temperature. In doing so, it also increases a rider’s recovery chances during the critical so-called ‘golden hour’ of rapid intervention after traumatic injury. It does this by combining two units of individually stored non-toxic components (ammonium nitrate and water) within the helmet lining. Sensors trigger a chemical integration of these two substances upon impact, setting off a process that creates a controlled
cold (endothermic) reaction. Acting like a giant icepack, this ThermaHelm ‘ThermaPak’ system lasts 30-45 minutes, maintaining normal (noromthermic, 37ºC) brain temperatures during that time. The ThermaHelm helmet is called Halo and also contains an emergency GPS beacon transmitter that records the exact GPS coordinates of where a rider is at the time of impact. It then sends that signal via Bluetooth automatically to the emergency services and also calls ThermaHelm’s base-station operators.
The Halo helmet is hand made and has a carbon fibre and Kevlar shell. The helmet has already got the ECE Regulation 22.05 mark, ACU Gold sticker and is currently awaiting a SHARP rating (SHARP only buy helmets independently off shop shelves to ensure impartiality and the Halos have just completely sold out of their first limited production run at the recent Motorcycle Live Show).What’s the idea behind it?
Chairman and founder of ThermaHelm, Julian Preston-Powers, a biker himself, explains how he came up with his brain cooling invention.
“I was on holiday in Mallorca a few years ago and a group of us hired motorbikes for the day. One of my friends went through a traffic light and when we caught up we saw him laying in the road unconscious. We called the paramedics immediately, but didn’t remove the helmet because leaving it on is what medics advise.
“By the time we got to the hospital my friend has suffered a traumatic brain injury. Inside the heat of the helmet his brain had swelled so much that his eyeballs had popped out of his face. Brain tissue swells like any other tissue but it has nowhere to go so builds up dramatically. His injuries were fatal.”
Following his friend’s death, Julian then set about inventing a concept that could prevent further motorcyclists dying as a result of traumatic brain injury and swelling. “It dawned on me that if I could invent a cooling system for the inside of a motorcycle helmet, I could save lives. And so ThermaHelm was born.” How much does it cost?
At the moment there is a special introductory offer of £499 (the same price as a top-flight lid from Arai or Shoei), down from the usual price of £999. As the first batch has already sold out, the discounted price should still be applicable. If that sounds steep, ThermaHelm offer a five-year, no quibble comprehensive guarantee, which includes a new helmet replacement for those involved in an accident. It is impossible to accidentally trigger the ThermaPak cooling mechanism unless there is a head in the helmet. If the mechanism is triggered in an accident, ThermaHelm will replace the helmet. As each Halo helmet is hand made at present, as a result there is a longer lead-time than with conventional helmets. The aim is to keep helmet production and manufacturing operations completely within the UK, as the design, concept and development are British: it was developed at the University of Sussex Innovation Centre.
To order or for more info, go to www.thermahelm.com