Differences in Helmets Affect Concussion Risks

Feb 3, 2014

Credit Virginia Tech

A new study from Virginia Tech shows football helmets can be designed to reduce the risk of concussions. 

Between 2005 and 2010, more than 18 hundred football players from Virginia Tech and six other colleges and universities around the country wore helmets equipped with sensors to measure the biomechanics of head impacts.  The players either wore a Riddell VSR4 or Riddell Revolution helmet and the sensors recorded over one million hits.  Tech researcher Steve Rowson says the Revolution helmet’s padding was 40 percent thicker than the other helmet. 

“This additional padding creates the ability to better reduce head acceleration for a given impact.”

Rowson says reducing the acceleration of the head thereby lessens the risk of a concussion.  The result of the study was a 54 percent reduction in concussion risk for players wearing the Revolution helmet.  He says future studies should include more types of helmets and a larger sample of players.

“It’s critical that future studies control for the number of times each helmet is impacted.”

Rowson says this study was unique because researchers compared how many times each helmet was hit to make a more fair comparison between the helmet types. 

“People should be cognizant of which helmets are being used and identify whether or not there is a need for a better helmet.”

Rowson feels there will never be a concussion-proof helmet.  He says additional precautions should be taken to prevent injury including changing the league rules on head contact.