Protect Your Brain: Are MIPS & SPIN Helmets Worth the Extra Cost?

Riding a bike can be great exercise but it can also be dangerous! From the research article "Impact Performance Comparison of Advanced Bicycle Helmets with Dedicated Rotation-Damping Systems" by M Bottlang et. Al in 2020: "Bicycling is the leading cause of sports-related head injuries treated in U.S. emergency rooms. Head injury from bicycle accidents caused 80,000 emergency department visits in 2015, with 13,000 of these visits including diagnosis of concussion and traumatic brain injury (TBI)."

Along with brain injuries, fractured clavicles, separated AC joints, knee injuries, rib fractures, and subluxed or dislocated shoulders are common injuries related to bike accidents. Although cautious riding and protective gear can reduce the risk of injury, it is impossible to completely eliminate the chance of injury, specifically injury to your brain. Bike helmets have been around for a very long time and are generally accepted as an essential accessory while riding. From the M Bottlang study referenced above, wearing a bicycle helmet reduces the head injury risk by up to 69%. Traditional bike helmets use foam to reduce linear forces that occur with impact thus reducing brain injury. Further brain protection is possible with Newer technology employs materials and attachments aimed to reduce rotational forces, specifically Multi-Directional Impact Protection System (MIPS) or Shearing Pad Inside (SPIN) technology. Buying a new helmet can be expensive, and getting one with MIPS or SPIN technology can increase the price even more. Is spending $150+ on a MIPS or SPIN helmet worth it?

Research has shown traditional bike helmets reduce the risk of skull fracture, penetrating injury, and severe traumatic brain injury (TBI). Concussions, aka mild TBIs, can occur even with a bike helmet. Even though concussions are considered "mild" TBIs, they can cause symptoms that interfere with one, a few, or nearly every aspect of your life. Statistically, acute concussion symptoms resolve fairly quickly for the majority of people, but for some, Post Concussion Syndrome (PCS) can last months, years, or even a lifetime. Concussion awareness has increased tremendously in the past decade and research (both preventative and treatment based) has increased with it. MIPS and SPIN are 2 types of new helmet technology to hit the shelves in the past few years. Read more about the other rotational helmet technologies here

Concussion symptoms are the result of brain cell injury and the resulting structural cell changes, metabolic changes, blood flow changes, and neurotransmitter effects. MIPS and SPIN aim to reduce both the linear forces AND the rotational forces that cause brain cell injury with impact, thus reducing the severity of a concussion. Current research supports this claim in biomechanical models and force testing.

At first glance, the MIPS system looks like a thin piece of plastic on the inside of the helmet. The technological key is how the plastic is attached - this allows the helmet to glide and rotate on impact thereby absorbing the rotational forces that would otherwise be transmitted to the brain cells. Based on M Bottlang's 2020 research, the predicted reduction in the chance of sustaining a head injury was found to be a 42% reduction with MIPS and a 54% reduction with SPIN, as compared to a traditional control helmet.

The research has spoken: the additional cost of MIPS and SPIN is worth it. Even at full retail price of $150-$290, the cost of a new, well fitting, rotational control designed helmet is worth the protection it provides your brain.

Get fitted for a bike helmet at your local bike shop or visit to shop a variety of helmets for mountain biking, road biking, snowboarding, skiing, rock climbing, ice climbing, whitewater kayaking, skateboarding, and any other sport.

Your brain is the command center of your body - it is essential to protect it as best as possible!

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