Able2Do Anything: Sports

Tech Company design custom-made riding helmets

two of the custom made helmets

Any horse rider will tell you the most important piece of equipment you need is the helmet, but what happens if somebody has an unusual sized head because of their physical disability?

Imogen is one such person who needed specialised headgear, she was born with cerebral palsy and Hydrocephalus which led to swelling of the brain.

To relax, Imogen finds comfort riding horses, but her family couldn’t find an adequate sized helmet until they reached out to a charity which focuses on children living with a brain condition.

The guys at Cerebra Innovation Centre (CIC) teamed up with the Assistive Technologies Innovation Centre (ATiC) to design a horse riding helmet for their new client using 3D printing and 3D scanning.

So how did they create this masterpiece?

First of all the designers took a 3D scan of the child’s head using something called an Artec Eva 3D Scanner, which took less than a minute. The captured information was then transferred into a Computer-Aided Design (CAD) programme which turned the data into a 3D model.

Once that was completed the team added layers of fibreglass and the heat-resistant fibre Kevlar, to mould a sturdy exterior shell. The inside was filled with a polystyrene liner which fitted Imogen’s head thanks to the Computer Numerical Control (CNC) processing.

Imogen’s mother told 3D PI: “It’s only thanks to the team at Cerebra that she’s been able to have this adventure – she’s never been able to do anything like this before because of her cerebral palsy.

“Being able to do things like this is a real boost to her confidence and self-esteem.”

3D isn’t just helping horse riders, the process has produced adapted accessories for gamers, such as Xbox thumbsticks and foot controllers as well as bike handles which are used in Paralympic games.

Design manager at CIC, Dr Ross Head, said: “We’re really just at the beginning with the Eva scanner, because we’re creating customised products for each individual child.

“Eva lets us makes things using a child’s exact measurements, so when it’s time for the child to put it on, or sit down or in it, it fits like a glove. And for a child who’s used to going through life feeling like they’re not fitting in, this kind of perfect fit is simply a dream come true.”

Imogen’s horse riding helmet was approved by the British Standards Institution.

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