Making a better helmet to help reduce brain injuries

From left: PhD student Colin Wallace, left, tries on a dirt biking shirt equipped with Armourgel protective covering, while UBC’s Paul van Donkelaar, centre, and Imperial College’s Dan Plant, right, look on.
Image Credit: Contributed/UBC Okanagan

KELOWNA – Researchers in Kelowna are part of an international team of researchers are working on applications for a new gel-like material that absorbs the shock from impacts. 

A pair of professors from Imperial College London were in Kelowna this past week working with UBC Okanagan’s new Survive and Thrive Applied Research or STAR facility. It’s researching the damage athletes sustain from concussions while playing contact sports.

Professor Dan Plant from London is one of the developers of Armourgel — a light, flexible material that absorbs shock on impact. The new material can be used in protective bike gear, clothing for elderly people prone to falls or to make sports helmets more effective.

"Sport-related concussion is becoming a major concern for athletes, parents, coaches, and sport associations,” UBC Prof. Paul van Donkelaar said in a media release. “The development of Armourgel helmets could be a step in the right direction to making contact sports safer."

Van Donkelaar is working with Armourgel and Kelowna’s Helios Global Technologies to develop a helmet liner that could lessen the impact of blows to the head.

The goal of the partnership is to work on a prototype helmet liner that may one day become standard safety equipment for those who play contact sports, according to van Donkelaar.

To contact the reporter for this story, email Howard Alexander at or call 250-491-0331. To contact the editor, email or call 250-718-2724.

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