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Football Helmets of the Future to Decrease Risk of Sports Injury

All sports equipment is designed to prevent sports injury, right? For the most part, this is true. Sports equipment companies are constantly trying to improve their safety equipment so that the risk of sports injury is low in those who wear or use their products.

In one study at the University of Hawaii at the John A. Burns School of Medicine in Honolulu and at the Emergency Department at the Medical Center for Women & Children, also in Honolulu, researchers put their heads together and tested out a new idea on how to prevent a sports injury from occurring to the head in football.

They apparently had been seeing quite a few patients come into the health centers for treatment of head injuries during football because the goal of their study was how to make a football helmet safer.

This must have been a fun study to do because they had a chance to place a football helmet on a mannequin for boxing and started beating it. The football helmet had sensors inside to register the forces that were being applied by another weighted swinging pendulum helmet, in an effort to mimic what happens in real football practice and at games, and how a sports injury can occur.

Because they were so focused on how to prevent a sports injury from occurring, the brilliant idea occurred to them – why not add layers of foam to the outside of the helmet? Normally the helmet has a very rigid exterior and the padding is inside.

What did they find? The impact of the blows that could potentially cause a sports injury was reduced significantly when the foam was added to the outside of the football helmet.

Look for this type of football helmet to be available in the near future! Right now no one knows if the new football helmet will make the football players look less mean and serious on the playing field, but if it means reducing the risk of a sports injury, it is well worth it!

Source: Nakatsuka, A.S. and Yamamoto, L.G. External foam layers to football helmets reduce head impact severity. Hawaii J Med Public Health 2014 Aug; 72 (8):256-61.

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