Head injury prevention
Raising standards to prevent serious and fatal head injuries in sport.
We influenced the revision of the British Test Standard (EN BS7928) in 2013, improving helmet safety and reducing the risk of head injury among cricketers.
The game of cricket has changed significantly to keep pace with the demands of modern entertainment-based sport. When new, shorter formats of such as Twenty20 were introduced, they encouraged batters to take greater risks in pursuit of run-scoring, which at times led to significant injury – injuries that could be career-ending and sometimes fatal.
In collaboration with the England and Wales Cricket Board, the International Cricket Council, the British Standards Institute and leading helmet manufacturers, we developed test apparatus that replicated specific incidents, to run lab-based studies that could assess a range of helmets’ ability to prevent head and facial impact.
The methodology was transferred to an accredited standards laboratory, where certified testing is now conducted. The work affected the British Test Standard in 2013, and as a result all helmets used in international cricket now must be certified to this standard. More than 100 models have been approved for use.
Our research has continued with a second revision to the standard – due for publication before the 2019 UK cricket season – which includes provision for a neck guard in response to the tragic death of Australian international Phillip Hughes in 2014.
We are now widening the impact of our work by collaborating with a range of sports bodies to test the protective headgear worn by players of, for example, hockey. There are also applications beyond sport within the emergency services and for military personnel.