Severe head injuries-and even deaths-have been reported in the practice of judo, often resulting from inexperience in using the appropriate falling technique (ukemi). In this study, we developed a novel head protector that protects the head and suppresses the neck extension during impact with the mat. The head protector was fabricated for this purpose and consists of a head support structure and shock-absorbing materials. The effectiveness of the head protector was tested experimentally with an apparatus with head and neck components that were based on a Hybrid III dummy. Several configurations of the support structure characteristics and the shock-absorbing materials were evaluated. The proposed head protector was capable of reducing the head angular velocity variation range-which is an important evaluation index for the onset of acute subdural hematoma -by 29% using the devices alone, by 21% using shock-absorbing materials alone, and by 47% using a combination of both. These results show that the proposed structures are highly effective in suppressing extensions at the cervical-thoracic joint (C7-T1), whereas the shock-absorbing materials are highly effective in suppressing rotations at the atlanto-occipital joint (O-C1). It is concluded that wearing the proposed head protector-which combines both effects-can reduce the risk of severe head injuries, even those resulting from severe impacts such as those associated with the judo ukemi practice.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biomedical Engineering