New Study Reveals that Better Helmets Can Prevent Concussions in Football Players
A new study at Virginia Tech shows that better football helmet design can help prevent concussions in football players.
Researchers embedded sensors in two different types of helmets, and discovered that one helmet was far more effective than the other at preventing concussions. Their findings also confirm that it is possible, despite rumors to the contrary, to design a helmet that can protect football players from concussions.
The study’s author, Stefan Duma, is a professor and head of the Virginia Tech-Wake Forest School of Biomedical Engineering and Sciences. Although Duma has been studyingconcussions and football helmet technology for years, he says this is the first study to look at force of impact on the field, rather than in a lab.
“I think some of the original motivation was in 2008, we were getting a lot of questions from our equipment group about what type of helmet to buy,” Duma said. “But there’s really nothing out there [for guidance]. There are a lot of individual manufacturers, but no independent system to figure out what is better. So that’s when we started reporting on biomechanical parameters.”
Between 2005 and 2010, Duma and his colleagues put sensors in 1,833 football players’ helmets to help measure the force of head acceleration in over 1 million head impacts. The players were all local college football players from Virginia Tech, the University of North Carolina, Brown University, and other colleges. They wore either a Riddell VSR4 or the Riddell Revolution helmet.
Their findings concluded that the Riddell Revolution reduced concussion risk in football players by up to 54% compared to the Riddell VSR4.
“The Revolution is slightly bigger and has more padding, with a different shell configuration,” Duma said. “All of that adds to lowering head acceleration, and that lower acceleration resulted in a clinically significant lower risk of concussion.”
However, the VSR4 is the more popular of the two helmets.
“The VSR4 was one of the most popular helmets ever in football,” Duma said. “Up until 2011, half of all colleges and the NFL had the VSR4. But it’s the low-performing helmet; it’s almost a 20-year-old design. New helmets have come onto the market, but people are reluctant to buy new styles.”
Duma stresses that, while better helmet design can help lower concussion risk, concussions will still happen on the field.
“While some helmets will reduce risk more than others, no helmet can eliminate risk,” he said. “[Head] impacts in football will always occur, even with the best rules and technique. This is where improving helmet design to best reduce concussion risk becomes critical. Our data clearly demonstrate that this is possible.”
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If you or a loved one has suffered a traumatic brain injury or concussion due to an automobile accident, neglected sports injury, or a defective product, it is not too late to get help. The attorneys at the Strom Law Firm offer free consultations to discuss the incident that led to traumatic brain injury and determine if you have a personal injury case. Contact us today. 803.252.4800.