As we mentioned going into the Winter Board Meetings of NOCSAE, renowned reporter on head injuries, Alan Schwarz of the New York Times, was in attendance. Yesterday we posted parts of the press release from Arizona, in this article Schwarz dives deeper, and using his incredible knowledge about this issue went much deeper than a presser;
“We ultimately came to the conclusion that yes, it would be desirable to look and study and try to understand if we can come up with a meaningful youth football helmet standard,” said Cantu, a clinical professor of neurosurgery at Boston University. He added that a lower-force standard (which Nocsae requires for lacrosse helmets) and tests for more complex rotational forces would be pursued, but said, “The science that tells us where we should set it is not available today.”
Cantu was followed by David Halstead, Nocsae’s technical director and top expert on helmet physics, who theorized that football concussions derived from forces too numerous and complex for helmets to protect against them any better than they currently do. He said that testing helmets against rotational forces “will not lead to a reduction” in concussions, adding, “We’ve got a lot of information, but we don’t know what to do next.”
There was a lot of information talked about behind closed-doors, Schwarz had the opportunity to dive into some issues that were being discussed there;
Most of Nocsae’s two-day meeting was closed to the public and the safety commission. One matter discussed in the private sessions was a recent request by Nocsae to helmet manufacturers, asking them to turn over the last 10 years of their in-house testing data for examination. (In one company’s case, those records exceeded 27,000 pages.) Nocsae officials said they did not recall such a request in the past 10 years, as manufacturers have generally been trusted to follow Nocsae’s quality-control rules.
In an interview Friday, Mike Oliver, Nocsae’s executive director, expressed concern that some manufacturers might not have drop-tested as many helmets as they should have to meet the Nocsae standard, although further investigation was necessary. Halstead, Nocsae’s technical director, added that noncompliance would not necessarily mean any safety problems for helmets currently in use.
“Someone could be in violation of the licensing agreement, you might put them on notice — ‘Hey, you haven’t done what you’re supposed to do’ — but that may not be a comment about how the helmets perform at all,” Halstead said.
Once again I would like to thank Schwarz for his continual efforts to maintain some “transparency” during the concussion issue.