The Flip and the Leatt Neck Brace

While I think a neck brace like Leatt is probably good, I think that is over simplified. With nothing I can sit in my chair an roll my head quite far side to side and front to back. Putting something rigid in the way and still applying force and there would be stretching force on my neck. Is that a problem? Could be

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I’ve seen that reference before in these same discussions and it isn’t getting into the weeds to say motorcycles ≠ karts. They aren’t. The drive/ride is different. Wrecks are NOT the same, at all. The entire physics of a motorcycle wreck is different than a kart wreck.

Continuing on, what neck brace was each rider wearing? There are different braces. This study is about as relevant aand informative as doing a car racing neck brace injury report and not defining if they were wearing a Hans or a regular neck roll.

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the study doesn’t even reference the % of riders who use a neck brace in the first place. It makes it impossible to draw any conclusions. i.e if 50% of all riders used neck braces (all else being equal of course), then the data from that study looks good for them, if just 1% used neck braces then the data from that study looks VERY bad.

The relative kinematics may not be an exact match, but a MC rider can tumble to the ground in a manner very similar to what a kart driver might experience. In both modes, the operator is openly exposed & potentially at risk to experience a level head & neck trauma. I would actually expect MC riders to be at higher risk because of the relative height from the ground & a theoretically steeper angle of incident to the ground, & a MC rider has a potentially greater range of possible incidents to the greater degree of “freedom” of movement, whereas a kart operator is a little more confined (at least initially). But this is purely an academic observation. No one seems to be complaining about the use of MC helmets in karting, & there’s no indication that safety is compromised to any nontrivial degree in doing so, so I’m not sure it’s automatically valid to dismiss comparative observation out of hand just because it’s not exactly the same.

As I previously stated, the rate of specific C-Spine related injury occurrences concomitant with the use of a neck brace may be slow enough that you’ll be waiting a a few lifetimes for sufficient data to pile up to generate statistically reliable conclusions, & I don’t see anyone in the FIA/CIK or any other kart governing bodies conducting specific studies on the subject. This study is an entry point of sorts.

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Not really. All you need for this data to be even mildly worthwhile is a rough rate of neck brace usage over that period you are collecting injury information. Of course it’s more complex because it may be that rookie riders are more likely to wear a brace, and thus more likely to have a particular type of crashes… usually confounding variables.

The FIA have decided to introduce homologated chest and rib protectors, so it’s not beyond them to do this kind of thing.

It could. There could also be higher incidences of other injuries caused by the use of a brace. I’m not white knighting this study as the savior of the realm, but despite that they should have employed better statistical tools, the sample sizes are decent enough & the information is still worth looking at.

Here’s an interesting Interview with Dr. Chris Leatt that discusses the origins of the Leatt brace.

44% of visits to the ambulance were from riders wearing the brace. Of course there are probably confounding variables, but if less than 44% of riders wore a brace of the period of collecting data, it would suggest an increased risk of general injury for those wearing the brace.

If usage is <10% over that period the data actually would suggest riders who worse the brace are of no less risk of C Spine injury, and at increased risk of overall injury.

Of course this is speculative, but absolutely essential in understanding the data. You can draw two completely different conclusions very easily.

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Since starting this thread, I’ve been confused by a number of the comments. My original recommendation about a Leatt-type neck brace stands. To be clear, such a brace does not include foam rolls or similar devices. Also, the popularity, one way or the other, of any protective device does not seem relevant; racers of all kinds of machines, from Formula 1 to snowmobiles, have cut corners and taken risks forever (probably true of chariot racing, but I have little data except the movie “Ben Hur” :upside_down_face:). I personally found the Great Lakes EMS study compelling (it is worth hitting the link and reading the whole thing). However, it seems to be a flash point, rather than a help, to some members of the forum, so I would like to tackle the issue from what I consider simple logic.
Focusing only on cervical injuries (not road rash, hematomas, pulled back muscles, broken bones, etc.) a kart flip will involve an impact to the helmet, and thus the cervical, from a “dome” of directions. What I am visualizing is a hemisphere resting on a driver’s shoulders; the direction of the impact could come from any point on the dome and I believe that the track and surrounding surfaces would be involved in 99% of these impacts. The magnitude of the impact would be made up of such obvious things as the weight of the kart and driver, the speed of the kart, etc. Because the Leatt-type neck brace restricts the range of motion of the helmet (in any direction, front to rear, side to side, and straight down), the cervical is significantly protected from too much flex or compression.
One anecdote, NOT intended as statistical proof . After my violent 50 mph flip, any examination of my helmet would confirm that it is destined for the trash dump. In spite of the impact loading it incurred, I had zero injuries, bruises, or whatever, from the Leatt brace where the impact loading was distributed from the base of the helmet to my back, shoulders, and upper chest as designed.
p.s. Alan – is Terence really your brother??? I had no idea that 2 Dove’s could be racing and coaching at the same level!

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It would appear that chariot racing has its risks:

Do you happen to have a picture of the helmet? Curious to see what it looks like after a crash

The issue I have here is anecdotes. For example #99, the guy with the kart on his head below, by all accounts apart form feeling a bit bruised, is OK from this crash. Did not wearing a neck brace save his life? Maybe, maybe not. we can’t know.

Now, had he worn a neck brace, and had the same physical result, I can absolutely guarantee 100% that people would say “well had he NOT worn one he’d have broken his neck”. I’ve seen it time and time again when people crash with them on and proclaim their effectiveness.

This is the very definition of Action Bias; The action bias describes our tendency to favor action over inaction , regardless of results. It’s something we should all be very very wary of.


Makes me wonder why I am having my kart rebuilt… However, not the flip I referenced. I acknowledge that there are many flips involving drivers without neck braces and many accidents which are not flips. Not the issue. The issue is whether or not a neck brace prevents some tragic injuries – not all, some. If so, they are worth the cost and inconvenience. Not because there are so many flips, but because it only takes one to justify their use. And I still don’t know if Terence is your brother… :crazy_face:

Well there is no determining study that will say for our application that they prevent any injury at all. You also need to factor in the risk of other injuries that would not be had if the neck brace was not worn. So now, it isn’t just “do they prevent some injuries” but also “do they add risk to other types of injuries” as well.

That is, to put it simply, a gross oversimplification. You are assuming that you are going to get injured in the wreck no matter what and that these are the only 2 outcomes possible.

I disagree that it would be going into the weeds to point out the very real difference between the kinematics and situations in a motocross versus karting wreck. There are differences in the impacts that are made, and the neck braces are all designed for those situations and not the flips that we see in karting. We don’t fall out of our karts from 30 feet in the air and slam into the ground.

Alan brings along a very good point of the data analysis. We have no numbers on how many riders overall use a neck brace, and we’re only seeing the ones that come to the ambulance. Those are two huge red flags in statistical analysis, and are very important to certifying that these numbers provide any value to a study.

Verifiable? No, but I know a cadet whose dad said he broke his collarbone because he was wearing a neck brace. The reality is that just about everything here is anecdotal, since no scientific studies have been conducted on the topic in a controlled environment.

To throw another wrench into this mix, which I did mention in the other recent article about neck braces, one of the biggest names in organizing American karting asked a kinesiologist about neck braces, and the research from that pointed to neck braces being more dangerous for your neck since it restricts the movement your body uses to absorb energy and prevent injury. The braces keep your neck from moving like it is supposed to, and also force your neck to pivot around a point that isn’t the center of your spine, increasing the risk of injury by moving your neck in a way it wasn’t designed to.

Glad to hear you’re ok, @oldguy!

We must not agree on the definition, or perhaps scope, of the term “potential”.

This is logically presumptuous. MX is just 1 subset of motorcycling. It’s a bigger market with more resources, & there are some legitimate, applicable benefits to be had by looking there - at any or all of its categories - that would be foolish to just dismiss over the differences between them.

The relatively greater freedom of movement on a MC will allow for a potentially greater range of possible impact scenarios for a rider, & it is possible that some of those might overlap what might occur in karting. Generally speaking, safety lessons can be derived from external sources & applied to karting with positive affect.

I also never dismissed Allen’s points, or called them invalid. There isn’t a plethora of data on this subject, but there is useful information. The learning has to start somewhere.

I’m not sure how there’s a disagreement on the term “potential.” You made that statement as if those are the only 2 outcomes available in the situation, disregarding the number of other less severe injuries that are more common.

That is the majority of the major injuries though. Major MX injuries aren’t coming from just falling off the bike, it’s coming down from the air, over a whoops section, things we don’t see in karting.

I’m not sure that we can apply that the other way, either, though. They can’t even agree in MX whether neck braces are worthwhile, how are we supposed to use their conflicting experiences to apply to our specific scenario. Until a proper experiment is done, the safety of neck braces is questionable at best.

I understand you never directly dismissed Alan’s points, but you are trying to argue relevancy from a topic that is not ours, and disregarding his points that you can’t even draw statistical significance from the data, which is incredibly important when trying to determine relevancy. We can’t even tell if the data you showed us is significant for MX at the moment, seeing as we don’t know the standard rate of wearing a neck brace for the overall population of MX riders. This doesn’t even consider that amateur drivers that are more prone to accidents may be wearing more neck braces, types of crashes, etc. that would all be needed to determine whether our discipline would benefit from them.

This can be useful information, but we don’t know that for sure yet. The learning should come from an actual experimental process, not information from an ambulance.

Agree, but for the moment, this data is available, & it’s a starting point. Is there any org currently conducting a broad & thorough study on this subject? What other data is out there? Show me. I want to see it.

The data is there, but it’s clear it was collected by a very bias source. The conclusions the ‘study’ draws suggests that we can’t trust the data, at all. It’s the opposite of useful. Also, from the pure numbers the ‘study’ enables people to draw whatever conclusion they like because we can invent the other aspects of the data that dramatically can change what conclusions could possibly be drawn.

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Just an FYI, I have a buddy who currently needs surgery to repair a full separation collar bone break from.earlier in the season that will absolutely not heal on it’s own due to how separated the bone pieces are.

Guess where the collar bone broke.

Yep, literally right at the edge of the neck brace.

It ended up causing deep vein (?) blood clots from non healing and putting him at risk of a pulmonary embolism.

It was a typical kart flip, up over slide.