Vertebrae
Protector

Every year, more than 130,000 people suffer spinal injuries due to sports, traffic, and working accidents. According to “wings for life”,1 more than 2.7 million victims suffer from paraplegia. The consequences of spinal accidents can lead to life-long disabilities, chronic pain, and even death. Aside from the physical, psychological, stresses and strains of such an injury, enormous economical costs occur. Regarding positive healing aspects, spinal injuries with paraplegia are to be seen as the worst injuries to be treated. A full recovery or rehabilitation of spinal cord injuries is rare.

Research:

Inspired by these issues, we started a screening of existing back protectors. According to recent surveys of major spinal injuries in Germany, only 4% can be avoided by current back protectors. To clarify these surveys, spinal injuries can be classified into 2 categories:

  • Direct spinal impacts represent a ratio of 4% of the studies.
  • The majority of these injuries (96%) are spinal overextensions, which is the most common reason for paraplegia.

Development:

In collaboration with the Medical University of Vienna and Graz, a concept is being developed and tested which aims to protect spinal overextensions. The concept is a spinal cord protector, which compared to back protectors on the market, would reduce the currently high percentage of spinal injuries. The development of the spinal cord protector consists of two elements:

  • A bionic spinal cord back shield, which simulates the same movements of the spine.
  • A connection harness, which attaches to the body.
Connecting these two elements shall provide a sufficient spinal protection device.

Ongoing Challenges:

The biggest problem of the ongoing development is that currently no affective test methods are available. Before we can verify current sufficiency of such a product, we must first develop a testing method. There is no biomechanical data existing, which gives us information about critical spinal impact forces, causing fractures. Even methods to evaluate products used in the automotive sector (ATDS crash test dummies) cannot be incorporated due to the fact, that neither the thoracle nor lumbar spine section is integrated.

In collaboration with Dr. Dietmar Rafolt, (Center for Medical Physics and Biomedical Engineering / Medical University of Vienna) we launched a project to test the spinal cord protector under a critical range, to gain knowledge about the effectiveness of the product.

Goal:

Focus and target of the ongoing development is to avoid fatal or lethal spinal injuries. Information scientifically gained will be published in medical journals and used for future safety measures.

Status: Patented
Collaboration with Medical University of Graz / Vienna
Ongoing development

1Wings for life Vertebrae case studies 2008

Vertebrae
Protector

currently in development

Current back protectors fail to have significant statistical preventative impact on fatal spinal injuries like paraplegia. The results of more than 3 years of research and development are taking us closer to a product launch next year, which will change the world of back protection.

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Integrated Audio Freestyle Helmet

Integrated conductive Headphones provide a higher safety standard in wakeboarding.

Wakeboarding is a mixture between surfing and waterskiing, which has become increasingly popular in the last decade. Worldwide estimations calculate a collective of around 3.4 million wakeboarders. Most riders practice freestyle wakeboarding, a discipline well known for aggressive riding and stunt performances. New disciplines like “park” riding have enhanced physical traumas in the head region. Statistical reviews show that head injuries represent the third highest amount of traumas in Germany. Quite common combined traumas such as eardrum injuries occur significantly often. Listening to music while practicing this sport is essential for most wakeboard riders. A lack of compatibility within helmets and audio systems leads to a resignation of to wearing current helmets. I addition to that, weight and fit issues intensify these aspects.

The projects focus is to investigate into a new wakeboard helmet, which provides an integrated conductive headphone. A modular design system offers an individual use of the headphone without wearing the helmet while practicing wakebaording. These features allow the rider to recognize ambient noises and enables a higher safety performance.

Integrated Audio
Freestyle Helmet

currently in development

Integrated conductive Headphones provide a higher safety standard in wakeboarding.

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Wakeboard-
Safety Plate

currently in development

The Wakeboard Safety Plate will help reduce injuries to the lower extremities caused by high velocity impacts on water

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Wakeboard-
Safety Plate

Overview:

Wakeboarding is a popular action sport, combining surfing and snowboarding elements with waterskiing. Originally developed in the 80´s, it gained lots of popularity in the last decade. Currently, approximately 3.1 million people practice wakeboarding on a regular basis(G. Schippinger, Jatros 4/2008). Most athletes use the wakeboard for freestyle activities, which increases the risk for physical injuries. An epidemiological study in the US revealed, that the majority of injuries in wakeboarding is caused by freestyle movements (90%) (Keverline et al, Orthopedics 2003). It is also striking, that besides injuries of the upper part of the body (31%), in most cases the lower extremities are affected (67%).1

Problem:

Current wakeboard bindings enable the rider to control the board through direct translation of body movements. To provide this feature, wakeboard bindings are designed to connect the rider and the board with a direct link. However, this useful feature can lead to enormous water displacement in case of an impact. The fixed link between rider and board leads to a direct absorption of deceleration forces by the ligaments in the lower extremities, where they can inflict heavy injuries. In a worst- case scenario one foot slips out of the binding and exposes the linked foot to massive rotational forces. This can lead to complex injuries like rotation fractures, ankle fractures and lesions of the knee. In summary, injuries of the lower extremities might be particularly prevalent because of current wakeboard bindings.

Concept:

In collaboration with specialists for accidental injuries, MADKEM developed a lightweight binding adapter plate. There is no need to replace any component in existing wakeboard setups. Just by adding the “safety plate”, the wakeboard is transformed into a safety device. The most challenging part designing this product was to provide maximum protection for the rider without substitution of existing bindings.

1(Hosteler et al., Am J Sports Med 2005; Tab.)