As Michael Schumacher makes a slow recovery from a traumatic brain injury, following a serious skiing accident in the French Alps, attention is being given to his helmet mounted GoPro.
At the time of the crash a French journalist named Jean-Louis Moncet claimed that Schumacher’s helmet mounted GoPro is what caused the brain damage. Moncet made the statement after speaking to Schumacher’s son (who was on that skiing trip), went on a radio show and stated that, “The problem for Michael was not the hit, but the mounting of the GoPro camera that he had on his helmet that injured his brain.”
While these cameras are clearly designed and marketed for mounting on helmets, the camera manufacturers have stated that customers do this at their own risk. Helmet manufacturers also advise against sticking anything to their helmets apart from their own approved products.
Following Michael Schumacher’s accident in December 2013 questions remain as to the effect these cameras have on the helmet’s ability to protect the wearer in the event of a fall. These questions were sufficient to cause the governing bodies of some sports to ban their use in competitions.
Investigators were looking into whether or not the helmet cam was at fault not long after the accident. The Telegraph writes, “The helmet completely broke. It was in at least two parts. ENSA analyzed the piece of the helmet to check the material, and all was OK,” said a source close to the investigation. “But why did it explode on impact? Here the camera comes into question. The laboratory has been testing to see if the camera weakened the structure.”
If Moncet is correct, then researchers in this case reached some conclusions that place blame on the helmet camera and mount.
However, a study conducted by the BBC found that, “the mounting of a camera to a helmet will not necessarily compromise its safety performance for the impact scenarios investigated by this study, except with one important exception. Cameras should never be mounted at the front of the helmet looking back towards the wearer – often used to capture the facial expressions or identify the wearer. In any situation where the camera could pivot to below the rim of the helmet, whether on long stalks or mounted right on the rim, any significant frontal impact (such as a fall onto a rock face or the ground) would force the camera into the face, resulting in serious facial injury.”