During World War I, the first combat helmet was issued to the French Army. Called the Adrian helmet, and introduced in 1915, it is often described as the first modern steel helmet. It was designed to protect French troops in trenches from head wounds from falling shrapnel.
Now, new research has found it performs better than modern military helmets in protecting the head from shock waves created by overhead blasts.
In protection from ballistics and blunt impacts, modern military helmets have advanced. But in terms of protecting the brain from shock waves from nearby blasts, the modern helmets are no better than WWI helmets, biomedical engineers of Duke University have found.
And the Adrian helmet, in particular, actually performed better than modern designs in protecting from overhead blasts, the researchers reported last week in the journal PLOS ONE.
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The researchers placed different helmets on a dummy’s head outfitted with pressure sensors at various locations. They then placed the head directly underneath a shock tube, which was pressurised with helium until a membrane wall burst, releasing the gas in a shock wave. The helmets were tested with shock waves of varying strength. The risk for someone wearing an “Adrian” helmet was less than for any of the other helmets tested, including the modern advanced combat helmet.
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