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Traumatic Brain Injury - Helmets and Prevention

Robert Karns

Helmets are an important part of prevention concerning skull fractures and scalp lacerations. When participating in sports and recreational activities including football, basketball, hockey, lacrosse, horseback riding, bicycle riding or motorcycle riding it is important to wear a helmet for prevention of certain types of head injuries including skull fractures and scalp lacerations. A helmet can provide protection from a traumatic brain injury concerning a direct hit to a single area of the brain. However, this type of injury can occur even when wearing a helmet when the injury is caused by an acceleration/deceleration causing the brain to smash back and forth inside the skull and helmet injuring the brain even though a helmet is being worn.

It is important to wear a helmet to help prevent head injuries when performing certain recreational and sports activities including the prevention of skull fractures and scalp lacerations. In addition, a helmet will help protect from a traumatic brain injury caused by the head being struck in one area.

Because the brain floats freely inside the skull in CSF fluid the injury is caused by a rapid acceleration/deceleration movement, the brain will smash back and forth inside the skull over the sharp ridged areas of the skull causing a traumatic brain injury.

This type of injury can be caused even when a helmet is being worn as the helmet will protect a focal or single area injury but will not prevent a diffuse injury when the brain smashes back and forth inside the skull.

This movement is known as a coup/contrecoup injury and is caused when the brain moves forcefully inside the skull. This creates an injury known as axonal shearing caused when the axons that connect the neurons (brain cells) are sheared or separated from the force. These injuries are microscopic and often times do not show up on CT scans or conventional MRIs.

This type of traumatic brain injury that is diffuse causing axonal shearing can occur without a loss of consciousness and without direct trauma to the head if the injury is in fact caused by a rapid acceleration/deceleration movement.

It is extremely important to help prevent traumatic brain injury to wear a helmet while doing recreational or sports activities, but also care must be used as can be seen a traumatic brain injury can occur even when wearing a helmet.


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