Better Helmet Design Reduces the Risk of Concussion, Study Claims

First Posted: Jan 31, 2014 09:31 AM EST

A latest study claims that better helmet design can help reduce the risk of concussion.

The study was based on six years of head impact data collected from eight football teams. The data was collected between 2005 and 2010. During this period, nearly 1,833 players wore helmets that were fitted with sensors to measure the biomechanics of head impacts.

The players were either made to wear a Riddell VSR4 or Riddel Revolution helmet. The rate of concussion was compared between the two different helmets. It was seen that the players who wore the Riddell Revolution helmet had a 54 percent drop in the risk of concussion.

"This is the first study to control for the number of times players hit their heads when comparing helmet types," said Steve Rowson, lead author and an assistant professor in the Virginia Tech - Wake Forest School of Biomedical Engineering and Sciences. "No previous study has been able to account for this variable. Controlling for head impacts allows you to compare apples to apples. For example, you're not comparing a player in one helmet who rarely gets hit to a player in another helmet type who frequently gets hit."

The sensors fitted in the helmet measured the head acceleration every time the player had an impact. Higher rate of head accelerations were seen in players using the VSR4 helmet. This is because the Revolution helmets modulate the energy transfer every time an impact on the head occurs. Due to this the accelerations in the head also reduce. When the helmet lowers the head acceleration, the rate of concussions also drops simultaneously. The researchers at the same time stress that no helmet can totally prevent concussions.

"While some helmets will reduce risk more than others, no helmet can eliminate risk," said Stefan Duma, professor and head of the Virginia Tech- Wake Forest School of Biomedical Engineering and Sciences. He says, "......However, 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."

The finding was reported in the Journal of Neurosurgery.

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