Helmet Design May Affect Concussion Risks in Football

Have you seen the movie called “Leatherheads” in which George Clooney is a football player wearing a leather helmet? Helmet design has certainly changed over the years, but football players still assume a serious bodily injury liability, especially to their heads.

Not surprisingly, football has the highest incidence of concussion for any sport in the United States according to the Sports Concussion Institute. A new study published in the Journal of Neurosurgery has found that the risk of suffering a concussion may be dependent on the type of helmet worn. Football helmets are designed to reduce the chance of serious head injuries.

Researchers from Virginia Tech analyzed head impact data from more than 1,800 players from eight college football teams between 2005 and 2010. Two helmets — a Riddell VSR4 and a Riddell Revolution — included sensors that measured head acceleration for more than one million impacts. The Revolution helmet, which has a greater offset and 40 percent thicker foam, reduced concussion risk by 54 percent.

“Head impacts in football will always occur, even with the best rules and technique,” says Stefan Duma, co-author of the study. He adds: “This is where improving helmet design to best reduce concussion risk becomes critical. Our data clearly demonstrate that this is possible.”