Research on bighorns identified a very different mechanism through which protection against brain injury may be achieved.
One source of vulnerability for humans is that the brain is not perfectly fitted into the cranial cavity, leaving the brain more vulnerable to injury. Some insight into this issue is provided by evidence that football players sustain fewer concussions when playing at high altitudes.
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This may be attributable to increased volume of blood in the brain, which prevents brain tissue from moving around inside the skull. This research has led to the introduction of a collar device that increases blood volume of the brain by pressing gently on the carotid artery. One key benefit of the woodpecker analogy is that it highlights the extreme vulnerability of human brains to traumatic injury. New helmets could be designed that are more effective at absorbing impact in specific sports based upon detailed scientific research that is now likely to be funded.
The woodpecker analogy also encourages equipment designers to think outside the box.
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Based on adaptations of the woodpecker's feet, one could speculate that footwear might have more of a role to play in absorbing bodily collisions. The woodpecker analogy helps us to understand the problem better. Understanding the problem well is always the first step to finding solutions. Woodpecker pecking: How woodpeckers avoid brain injury. Journal of Zoology , 3 , Traumatic brain injury — football, warfare, and long-term effects.
Bird-Brained Bike Helmet Coming This Summer
New England Journal of Medicine , , Nigel Barber, Ph. Should we bring back the trees or choke off economic growth? Humor is often the first casualty of political correctness. Back Psychology Today.
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Can Woodpeckers Save Football? | Psychology Today
Bodily Adaptations Woodpeckers have some remarkable bodily adaptations that are effective at reducing the impact of pecks against tree trunks 1. Brain Design Compared to humans, woodpeckers and other birds have relatively small brains, or lower encephalization ratios that relate brain size to body size. The Engineer's Perspective One way of thinking about brain injury is as an engineering problem where the impact of a collision is too great for the brain to withstand injury.
The Hydraulic Theory of Brain Protection One source of vulnerability for humans is that the brain is not perfectly fitted into the cranial cavity, leaving the brain more vulnerable to injury. Whether this can help athletes to minimize brain injuries remains to be seen. How Does This Help Athletes?
Helmet Inspired by Woodpecker May Revolutionize Bike Safety
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Device To Protect Brain From Concussion Inspired By A Woodpecker
The winner, to Surabhi's surprise, was cardboard. To use it in his bike helmet, he treats the material with a waterproofing agent to protect against rain and sweat and mimics the structure of woodpeck trabeculae by building a honeycomb structure. In an interview with the BBC , Surabhi said that the structure isn't exactly the same: Woodpecker cartilage has similar air pockets and spaces, but they're distributed in a way that's too complex for mass production.
Like the cartilage, the air-pockets in the laser-cut ribs of cardboard collapse under force, which absorbs most of the impact of a crash. Lab tests show that the liner absorbs three times as much force as traditional polystyrene helmet liners. It's also as much as 15 lighter. Already available in the UK, it's expected to hit US shelves this summer. Via BBC.
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