Protecting the child's abdomen: A retractile bicycle handlebar
A surveillance system in the Emergency Department of a level 1 pediatric trauma center previously identified minor bicycle crashes as a cause of serious child abdominal injury. A discordancy exists between the apparently minor circumstances and serious injuries sustained by child bicyclists who impact bicycle handlebars. The objective of this work was to redesign the bicycle handlebar to reduce the forces transmitted to the child's abdomen during an impact with the handlebars. A retractable handlebar consisting of a spring-mass-damper system was designed to retract and absorb the majority of energy at impact (Patent pending). Because the child remains in contact with the bar after impact, the retracting system also includes a mechanism to damp the outward motion of the handlebar. This prototype will reduce the forces at impact by approximately 50% in a collision similar to those discussed above. A unique methodology of translating research findings into product design produced a novel handlebar that absorbs significant energy that otherwise would be transferred to the child's abdomen when impacting the handlebar.
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