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Pioneering designers make helmet to let autistic teenager ride a horse for the first time

A sixteen-year-old boy has been granted his wish to ride a horse with his friends, thanks to an innovative new helmet designed at a centre in Swansea.

Tommy-Lee riding a pony for the first time

Tommy Lee needed to have a specially adapted helmet because of a medical condition.

Tommy-Lee is helped onto a pony

Now, after more than a year of work... one's been specially made for him.

It's a huge step for him because it will open up his life as he leaves school, any opportunity that comes up in college and his future, just his future adult life, he can reflect on how far he's come here.

– Shirley Morgan, teacher

Making a helmet that is suitable and safe is a complex task, so the Cerebra charity drew upon the expertise of designers at its centre at the University of Wales Trinity St David in Swansea.

A 3D scan of Tommy-Lee's head shape let designers create a helmet that would fit him but still look like a conventional one

The team, who specialise in everyday equipment for children with disabilities, made a 3D scan of Tommy Lee's head shape.

We were trained as classic product designers, so we could have been designing kettles and toasters! But we have an amazing fulfilment in our job.

It seems such a small thing to anybody else, because we can just go and buy a horse riding helmet, we can go and buy a mountain biking helmet and we can get stuck in, whereas for Tommy Lee this will really make a difference in his life.

– Dr Ross Head, University of Wales Trinity St David
The design was put through rigorous BSI testing

The helmet's been tested to the very highest standards.

We've tested to the same standard we would for a normal helmet, so it's down to the good work that Cerebra have done to make the helmet.

There were some challenges because of the size and construction of the helmet, however it went through and it performed incredibly well in the tests that we completed on the helmet.

– James Fuller, British Standards Institute

Watch the report from Mike Griffiths below: