frequently asked questions

General

What does MIPS stand for?

MIPS stands for Multi-Directional Impact Protection System.

What is MIPS?

The MIPS system is designed to add protection against the rotational motion (or kinematics) transmitted to the brain from angled impacts to the head. The rotational motion is a combination of rotational energy (angular velocity) and rotational forces from angular acceleration that both affect the brain and increases the risk for minor and severe brain injuries. MIPS’ added protection system has been proven to reduce the rotational motion when implemented in a helmet by absorbing and redirecting energies and forces otherwise transmitted to the brain.

Where can I see my MIPS layer?

Initially, the MIPS layer was found between the helmet’s shell and the EPS/foam helmet filling. More recent and common versions have the MIPS layer underneath the EPS, between the helmet and the head. This is the most common low friction layer on the market today.

Where is MIPS from and when did it start?

In 1995, the Swedish brain surgeon Hans von Holst from the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm began to explore how helmets in general were constructed based on the belief that the inferior protection helmets offered led to consequences for too many people who had suffered head trauma wearing helmets. Hans von Holst contacted the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) in Stockholm in order to initiate biomechanical research on head and neck injury prevention. As a result, student Peter Halldin initiated his PhD on head and neck injury biomechanics, being the first PhD within this field. Peter Halldin initiated the work from a technical perspective, with assistance from Hans von Holst and his clinical background, with the goal of understanding the complete picture from accident to potential injury.

During the initial years of research, Peter Halldin and Hans von Holst also analyzed the need for a system that reduced the rotational acceleration to the brain. In 1996, Hans von Holst and Peter Halldin came together up with the idea of the MIPS technology, mimicking the brain’s own protection system. The first prototype of a MIPS equipped helmet was tested at the University of Birmingham in 2000, and resulted in the first scientific publication in 2001, showing that MIPS significantly could reduce the rotational acceleration.

Is MIPS developed by a helmet company?

No, MIPS was started by scientific and medical researchers with a passion for safety and making a product that possibly could make helmets safer.

Some say MIPS has become big only thanks to strong marketing efforts, is that true?

Though MIPS has grown very fast over the last couple of years, it started as a team of researchers focused on research and development. The success behind the sudden rise of MIPS is due to the ongoing focus on research, development, and communicating the dangers of rotational motion injuries. We invest in materials that help our partners and their consumers understand the benefits of MIPS so that we tell our story in the best possible way. This, along with a rise in general awareness of the dangers of rotational head trauma, is why we believe MIPS has grown in the last couple of years.  

Which helmets can use MIPS? Is it exclusive to any brand?

MIPS is designed to have the ability to be fitted into almost any helmet on the market. Our team of engineers work closely with the brands to produce a low friction layer that has minimal impact on the basic functionality of the helmets such as ventilation, comfort, and fit. Once fitted into the helmet, we at MIPS perform a thorough and demanding test procedure to ensure that the helmet passes the MIPS approval tests. MIPS has implemented low friction layers with proven results in bike, snow, equestrian, motorcycle, motocross, auto, ice hockey, football, and military helmets with demonstrated improvements to head protection.

What is Rotational Motion?

Rotational motion, in these cases, is the result of an angled impact to the head. A quick, sudden, abrupt stop, will cause the brain to move or stretch. This happens mainly due to the brain’s suspension in the cerebrospinal fluid and because the brain itself has shear properties similar to water.

Why is rotational motion dangerous?

It is known that the human head is more sensitive to rotational motion than linear motion.

From an engineering perspective, rotational motion is a combination of rotational energy (angular velocity) and rotational forces (angular acceleration) that both affect the brain and increase the risk for minor and severe brain injuries. The reason that the brain is more sensitive to rotational motion is that the brain is very much like water or a gel when it comes to its shear properties. The brain, like water, is also incompressible. Therefore, a linear motion will not affect the brain as much as a rotational motion.

How does rotational energy affect the brain?

Several researchers have linked severe brain injuries like Diffuse Axonal Injury (DAI) and Subdural Hematoma (SDH) to rotational motion transmitted to the brain from angled impacts.

Mild Traumatic Brain Injury (MTBI) or concussion is also believed to be caused by rotational motion.

Does MIPS influence fit, look, and comfort?

The MIPS low-friction layer is designed to add minimal volume and weight. Each model of helmet gets a layer that’s custom designed and engineered to fit the ventilation, shape, and other features of the helmet style.

Those helmets that are retrofitted with MIPS might see a reduction in helmet size by one size. New models will not be affected in this way.

Does it add a lot of extra weight?

The MIPS’ low friction layer weights from 25 to 45 grams, depending on the helmet model.

Does it work at any impact angle?

Yes, MIPS works independent of impact direction. It is a Multi-Directional Impact Protection System.

Does the hair and scalp have the same functionality as MIPS?

The force between the head and the helmet is very high at the event of an impact. To get a relative motion between the helmet and the head, a low coefficient of friction is needed. The scalp may help to reduce the rotational motion to the brain in a small way, but not to a substantive degree.

Do all helmets that meet required standards provide enough protection?

The current standard adequately addresses skull protection. But the protection against a brain injury is not measured in current official test standards.

Does MIPS interfere with the current standards?

No, all the tests done with MIPS-equipped helmets and non-MIPS-equipped helmets show that they perform the same under vertical impacts. In some cases, the helmet with MIPS may show slightly better results due to having more material between the skull and the impact surface.

How much relative motion does the MIPS system provide?

The MIPS´ low friction layer moves about 10-15 mm in any direction. You can feel the movement by placing your hand inside the helmet and rotating the MIPS layer.

What specific mechanisms does MIPS protect against?

MIPS has been proven to reduce the rotational motion from angled impacts when implemented in a helmet by absorbing and redirecting energies and forces otherwise transmitted to the brain. By a small movement in the low friction layer relative to the helmet (10 – 15 mm) at the brief moment of an angled impact ([5 – 10] milliseconds), MIPS lets the head continue in the direction to which it was originally heading without transferring the rotational energies to the brain. The absorption is due to friction heat and also that MIPS will spread the load to a larger area of the helmet liner.

How is MIPS tested and validated?

A helmet is approved by testing the helmet at between 6.0-7.5m/s at a 45 degree impact angle against grinding paper. Three different impact sites are tested. The same helmet model is compared with and without the MIPS system.

Why is the impact speed 7.5 m/s (vertical 3.7 m/s + horizontal 6.7 m/s)?

The impact speed chosen for bike, snow, and equestrian helmets are 6.2m/s and 7.5m/s for motorcycle helmets. Impact angle is always 45 degrees. The speeds for bike helmets were chosen based on real accident reconstruction studies (Verschueren et al 2009).

What kind of head is used inside the helmet?

We use a Hybrid III dummy head made out of aluminium covered with a rubber skin. This type of dummy head is the same as used in testing within the automotive industry.

Has anyone else tested the MIPS Patented Brain Protection System?

The Swedish insurance company Folksam has performed its own third party tests of snow, bike, and equestrian helmets and the results have supported MIPS’ safety claims.

Consumer Reports in US and SP, the Technical Research Institute of Sweden, joined forces with Test Fakta, an independent editorial entity that tests all kind of consumer products, to perform a third party test. MIPS equipped helmets performed in the top here as well.