This post come via Senior Researcher and Editor, Mike Lutz
Mark Maske of the Washington Post ran a story recently about the happenings in the NFL in terms of technology.
“We see impacts with an enormous amount of energy and the player is not concussed,” said Richard Ellenbogen, co-chairman of the NFL’s head, neck and spine committee. “And then we see a hit with less energy and the player
is concussed. We have not been able to match the two. . . The goal is to see if we can correlate the impacts with the outcome in terms of concussion.” That goal will soon lead to placements of devices known as accelerometers in players’ helmets to measure the force of hits to the head they absorb. The NFL committee plans to test three types of the devices – versions used in helmets, earpieces and mouthpieces – for possible use by players beginning next season.
This is a good goal to have, and as Kevin Guzkiewicz noted there is no better time than now to begin the data collection. There simply is not any useful information to develop an entire picture on the concussion issue, both in game and post-career. Accelerometers are not the only thing the NFL may see soon, perhaps a new helmet, one with a soft outer shell;
The goal of prevention has spurred a wide range of experiments with new materials for helmets. For example, the Gladiator, eight years in development, incorporates a soft outer shell made of polyurethane foam, approximately a
half-inch thick, over a hard shell helmet. “It didn’t make sense to put hard shells on the outside of helmets,” said industrial designer Bert Strau, founder of Pennsylvania-based Protective Sports Equipment, which makes the Gladiator. “They don’t have much give. We don’t use hard bumpers [on vehicles] any more. They’re soft.”