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Head protection: a European training network for Advanced Designs in Safety

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - HEADS (Head protection: a European training network for Advanced Designs in Safety)

Reporting period: 2017-01-01 to 2018-12-31

The HEADS ITN aimed to incorporate the effects of angular kinematics both in determining injury thresholds and in certifying helmet safety standards. The Network aspired to train Early Stage Researchers to be experts in this multidisciplinary intersectoral field.

To date, it is linear acceleration that has been used most to determine head injury risk, although brain injury is influenced by angular kinematics. The scientific goal of the HEADS Network was to improve our understanding of head impact injury by taking account of rotational kinematics. This would result in improved helmets and a reduction in fatalities and the severity of injuries. This scientific objective was achieved through computer simulations and experimental reconstructions of real-life accidents, combined with new tests to determine injury thresholds and to certify new helmets. The Network’s industry partners manufacture high quality helmets for equestrian sports, cyclist and F1 motorcyclists; our 3rd level partners already provide international leadership in this field of research. The mix of industry and academia in this project was ambitious, comprehensive and goal oriented.

The Network also intended to train a group of highly specialised PhD graduates who were cognisant of head impact biomechanics, helmet design technologies, and were aware of commercial market opportunities. The ESRs worked with world class facilities and highly qualified experts; they benefited from a training scheme which will draw on the expertise of academic and industrial partners.

This research from this project provides a new level of understanding of head injury and its prevention, with directly applicable results for European industry. It's objective was to develop a well networked group of young engineers and scientists into world class researchers and innovators with numerous career paths open to them. These professionals will advance technology for the benefit of society to maintain Europe as a global leader in industrial development.

In summary, the Network’s objectives were to:

• develop new understanding of head impact injury and injury thresholds for rotational kinematics
• design new helmet standards test methods that recognise the importance of head rotational kinematics in head injury
• train an elite cohort of ESRs in the multidisciplinary field of head impact protection, who will have a unique blend of commercial and industrial market awareness

The Network consortium consists of 6 partners, each of them leaders in their fields.

• University College Dublin, Ireland (NUID UCD)
• Kunliga Tekniska Hoegskolan, Stockholm, Sweden (KTH)
• Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Leuven, Belgium (KU Leuven)
• Charles Owen & Company Ltd, Wrexham, UK (Charles Owen)
• Lazer Sport NV, Belgium (Lazer Sport)
• AGV SPA, Italy (AGV)

The blend of partners ensured that ESRs received a multidisciplinary approach to their training, and experience of academia and industry, thereby ensuring that their research was relevant to real world solutions.
In the HEADS project lifecycle [M1–M48], progress wa made in each of the following 6 Work Packages defined by the project:

• WP1 Management of Network
• WP2 Training Programme
• WP3 Communication, Dissemination & IP
• WP4 Accident Reconstruction & Simulation
• WP5 Head Model Refinement
• WP6 Helmet Certification Standards

The first 3 Work Packages dealt with the logistics of delivering & managing the Network’s objectives while Work Packages 4-6 referred to the research topics of the Network.

Work Packages 1-3

The Network achieved the following logistical and management outcomes:

• Addressing the logistical issues of setting up a Training Network
• Recruiting a Project Manager to provide support to Network members
• Recruiting 13 excellent ESRs whose abilities will ensure delivery of the Network objectives
• Establishing the project’s Supervisory Board
• Delivering EU Reports (Progress; Draft Periodic; Periodic)
• Hosting Midterm Review Meeting with the EU
• Completing Career Development Plans for each of the ESRs
• Advancing ESRs towards completion of their Transfer Assessments
• Commencing the Network’s Secondment programme
• Delivering the training programme
• Engaging in outreach & dissemination activities
• Launching a Network Website (
• Delivering Ethics Requirements
- Organising a HEADS Symposium at the 8th World Congress of Biomechanics
- Hosting a final HEADS Conference

Work Packages 4-6

The project lifecycle saw the Network’s ESRs yield the following scientific outcomes:

• Publishing an Accident data collection guide (
• Publishing a Helmet Standards Evaluation report (
• Participating in software training e.g. MADYMO, Poser, MATLAB, and ABAQUS
• Expanding our sources of accident data
• EFFECT OF IMPACT SURFACE ON EQUESTRIAN FALLS published in Proceedings of 34th ISBS, Tsukuba, Japan
• Development of polymer anvil
• Performing accident reconstructions which will be applied to the finite head model
• Continuing with the Head Model refinement which includes:
o Modelling skull fracture
o Development of a realistic skin model
o Characterising bridging veins
o Developing an active ageing head model
o Investigating thresholds for neuronal damage in head models
o Analysing brain tissue characterization thresholds for brain contusion
• Developing new equestrian helmet standard tests for improved head impact protection
• Seeking to develop a more biofidelic headform
• Developing new cycling helmet standard tests for improved head impact protection
• Developing new motorcycling & snow sports helmet standard tests for improved head impact protection
• Characterisation and analysis of energy absorbing materials under compression/shear for helmet liner applications
- Publishing 40 Journal Publications, Conference Proceedings and Reports - many of them being of a joint publication status or showing inter work package collaboration.

The project partners met all deliverables and milestones.
The collaboration between the HEADS Network partners and their ESRs proved productive and successful. The team’s positive dynamic resulted in cooperative and positive teamwork and partnership across a variety of research environments. There is great enthusiasm for what the HEADS Network research yielded and for the impact that the research will have on society.
The Network’s ultimate objective of having 13 highly skilled and specialised ESRs emerge from this programme will have a major positive societal impact, ensuring that the EU remains a leader in this field of research.

It has been recognised that there is an absence of a structured research programme that will improve helmet standards within the EU. The HEADS ITN aimed to overcome the challenges of fragmented or duplicated research and to address this deficit. Through its collaborative approach, training workshops, and outreach and secondment opportunities, the Network was effective in transferring and sharing the expert subject knowledge.

Finally, all industry partners were engaged in the research being carried out by the HEADS team. Integrating the research results into their helmet products continues to be a work in progress.
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