The Flip and the Leatt Neck Brace

Several months ago there was a discussion of neck braces under this tag. I made a couple posts advocating their use. I’ve worn one since I started karting at age 65, but never used one. Until now. Four weeks ago I got tagged from behind. The other driver hit my right side pod just in front of my JACKED right rear tire as I was making a 50 mph right hand turn… With about 1.3 g’s side loading on my left side, I did a mid-air barrel roll and landed on my head so fast that I didn’t even realize it had happened. The kart and I came apart (after I acted as a 79 year old cushion to keep it off the asphalt) and I found myself spread out in the rocks and hard pan on the side of the track. Bottom line: NO head or neck or collar bone injuries in spite of lots of battle scars on the helmet and Leatt device. The rest of me: dinged up pretty well (but no broken bones or brain bleed per a full body CT scan with contrast dye at the trauma center). I’m 100% certain that the Leatt saved my neck from serious injury. If you watch Leatt’s video on their company website (they are a South African firm, so it takes a bit of hunting online) you will see that they do all kinds of testing – primarily on their motorcycle neck braces as that sport has many more – and more diverse – head plants. What is strange is that they no longer offer the kart neck brace in the US – I checked this out with their US HQ. However, you can find them in England and the rest of Europe. I stumbled upon a 50 year old UK firm called “Demon-Tweeks”; they had over 30 on hand, were as easy to deal with as any US retailer, and sent my new one out UPS. It arrived in 3 days.
I’ve got no dog in this hunt, except to tell every karter I can reach to buy and wear a top quality neck brace – always. From my research, Leatt has the best for karting but that’s just from my perspective.
In a little over a year we have “tested” them twice at our track, once when my friend landed straight down like a pile driver and once with me experiencing major side loading.


Glad to hear it worked out OK. AFAIK better safer than sorry insofar as protective gear is concerned.

That story makes me want to buy one!

That might have been the thread I started on neck braces that you’re referring to. Thanks for the story, definitely will add Leatt to my list to look at for my son. Glad to hear you weren’t hurt worse!

I’ve seen all manner of crashes with drivers getting driven over, going into tyres head first, and flipping… all without neck braces… and walk away.

Humans are bias tremendously, so I would always caution against the concept that one crash with one (or not) doesn’t automatically mean we can conclude anything.

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Alan – I have tremendous respect for you (I bought your book and read it twice – and still refer to it for a mental tune-up). There is no doubt that there have been many wrecks/flips where drivers without neck braces have walked away. The YouTube video of the flip at Little Monaco comes to mind. And I agree that two flips at our track with both drivers wearing Leatt braces is too small a sample to automatically prove that they would be necessary in all situations.
However, I believe the reverse is also true. What I mean is that the absence of injuries in a flip also proves nothing other than there were no injuries in that particular flip.
It is my opinion that it is analogous to Russian Roulette. IF you hit wrong without a neck brace, the consequences can be catastrophic, including total paralysis or fatal injuries.
Seat belts at Indy didn’t catch on until 1956 because most drivers were afraid of being trapped in a burning car (obviously, this was before fuel cells). But as early as 1922 Barney Oldfield experimented with one after seeing many drivers thrown from cars in wrecks, often leading to the loss of life. Race car and race track safety have made huge gains in my lifetime, but it has been a process that has taken years and that many resisted. Reflect back on Dale Earnhardt’s death, a loss that could have been prevented by the Hans device – a device which already existed at the time of his wreck but had not “caught on”. Now they are mandatory.

You’re getting me confused with my brother :slight_smile:

It should be noted that in Motocross/Supercross where the risk on neck and backs is far higher, neck braces aren’t ubiquitous. The reality is the safety credentials needs far more investigation. They’ve been around for more than long enough to have “caught on”.

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One obvious question: Are there any verifiable incidents where a neck brace caused serious injury during a wreck (rather than preventing injury)? There well may be, but I have not heard of any myself.

I am not sure there is verifiable for or against. I clearly seems like it could help against compression and other injury. It also seems like it could be a fulcrum point to apply leverage to the neck. I just wear a basic one, because I have to. I consider updating to a better one because I think there is value

It’s a fulcrum point on your collar bone, too.

The 2 potential outcomes are broken neck v. broken collar bone. It’s not much a of a choice, but it’s an easy decision, IMO.

Please show me any independent (non-manufacturer) scientific study on kart racing neck brace safety and I’ll consider believing anyone that says you need one to prevent a broken neck or any sever neck related injuries.

As of now, you are just going on what has been told to people for years by insurance companies/tracks or just going on a personal assumption or personal anecdotal evidence.

If it was a serious safety concern, it would be mandated by CIK-FIA.

What neck brace has been 100% thoroughly tested and given a safety rating by and independent testing organization?

What neck brace is going to prevent a broken neck? 90% of karting devices are little more than glorified collar bone cushions.

I do not wear a neck brace until I run a race where they are mandated. When I run those, I wear an EVS that is drastically shaved down. The majority of national drivers do not wear them. They’re practically non-existent in Europe. Show me the data on crashes without neck braces where there was a broken neck involved as a result.

If YOU want to wear one, that’s great. I’m all about the choice, but until there’s hard facts and data about it, you’re just spouting opinions about the matter. Yes, I am, too.

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10 yr Neck Brace Effectiveness Statistics by Great Lakes EMS

Let’s not take this thread off into the weeds by arguing to dismiss this study simply because it isn’t laser focused on karting. MC injuries are sufficiently relevant to make reasonable, comparative judgements about the mitigation efficacy of neck braces for kart users.

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What percentage of riders wear a neck brace? What type of tracks did they go to? What level of rider? What class of bikes? What age and experience?

The key statistic of ‘how many riders wear a neck brace’ iabsolutely vital. Maybe a study like this exists, but the one linked here is not good as we’re only seeing the ones who get to the ambulance. (ambulance bias)

This I find very odd.

“Over the course of the 10-year study, combining all critical and non-critical Cervical Spine injuries, 945 injuries were recorded without a neck brace (20% of 4726 people), and 136 with a neck brace (3.5% of 3803 people).”

They are saying, and please correct me if I am wrong, that 44% of the patients they saw ‘wore’ a neckbrace. Now, are we saying there is a 44% prevalence of neck braces in motocross? If for example there was just 5-10% prevalence of riders using an neckbrace, then what this study suggests is you’re far more likely get see the ambulance in the first place and neck injury no real difference in risk.

So, not good at all. Needs far far better data,

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I argued relevancy. You’re arguing statistical significance. Clearly distinct subjects. There’s only going to be so much available sample data, given the relatively limited user base. Thus, since a certain % of incidents involve neck/spine related trauma, it’s probably going to take time to “produce” enough of those specific subsets of incident injuries to garner a large enough sample to meet a stricter level of statistical scrutiny. Still, what we do have is more than passing numbers. 136 neck/spine related incidents isn’t a nothing burger, & the injury & death rates are telling. I wouldn’t be surprised if an actual ~10K+ sample size demonstrated comparable results.

The data could be telling us that if you wear a neck brace you’re far more likely to get injured in some way that warrants an ambulance visit (44% of ambulance visits were from wearers. If just 10% of riders wear one that is a huge increase in general injury risk) and that you might be no less likely to get a neck injury.

The conclusions of this study are hugely irresponsible, borderline negligent in my opinion.

There may in fact be a correlation between wearing a brace & incurring certain types injuries (eg. collar bone injuries), but a larger sample size is needed to establish it. The data is presented as is, & I have no problem with that.

The data isn’t presented responsibly, and ‘not presented as is.’ when they make a false statement such as:

“1. A Critical Cervical Spine injury is 89% more likely without a neck brace”

If just 11% of riders wear a neck brace (and all else being equal). Then that statement can’t possibly be true. It’d literally be no difference in CCPI risk.

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Yes, the conclusions are only relevant to that dataset. I wouldn’t assert generalized conclusions from it, either. But again, the problem is getting a large enough sample size based on the injury subset. This study recorded 8529 patients, 3803 wore braces, & 4726 did not. Of those only, “239 recorded cases of critical [C-spine] injuries without a neck brace, and 26 with a neck brace.” That’s over a period of 10 yrs. So, it’s going to be a while before the numbers can pile up enough to be able to draw up any sort of general conclusions.

But there are data points. 26 is small, but I would still think that if the braces did not mitigate incidences of neck injuries, then the rate would more closely approximate that of the 239 unbraced sample.

It isn’t small if less than 10% of riders wear braces all else being equal.