Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute

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Brain volume declines with age, increasing risk

Summary: Human brains shrink as they age. The effect is to increase your risk of brain injury in a crash. Nobody we know makes a helmet designed for seniors. You can look for one with thicker, less dense foam.

The studies below indicate that aging brains shrink, and become more prone to injury in a crash.

In addition to those studies, Wayne State University brain injury researcher Voigt Hodgson (now deceased) told us many years ago that brains, like every other part of the body, become more brittle and less flexible with aging. He estimated that an over-65 brain was about twice as likely to be injured from a given g force as a younger brain. That is obviously a broad-brush statement, and we have not found any research to back that up. But Hodgson was one of the pioneers in his field, and his view is worth considering.

We are indebted to the late Roy Burek, then Managing Director of Charles Owen & Co (Bow) Ltd, a UK manufacturer of equestrian helmets, for the research that identified the articles on this page.