As we learn more about the concussion issue there are people trying their hardest to provide as much protection as possible for those that play the game. From new assessment techniques to proper rehabilitation of the injury there is a myriad of different ways we can help out. The most important is erasing the stigma and educating all those involved in sports, particularly football.
Right now (and for the discernible future) there is no equipment, including helmets, that can protect/attenuate/prevent concussions, it is just a physics impossibility. However technology has come a long way in reducing the force transmitted to the head via helmets, with Riddell, Schutt and Xenith being the main focus and Rawlings a recent entry. There have been a lot of people looking at auto racing helmets for their ability to disperse forces, but there is a problem with them.
Once an auto racing helmet is in a crash it is no longer viable; the force absorbing technology is designed to sustain a massive insult – extreme G forces over a longer period of time - but not repeatedly, as the main focus of this protection is for skull fractures. In football there is severe enough collisions that would warrant the technology but the impracticality of the auto racing helmets: weight, durability and cost eliminate that as an option. That could all be coming to an end as Bill Simpson, a highly regarded safety expert in the racing world, has developed a new helmet.
I have been able to track down that Simpson IN FACT has created a helmet. As of this posting neither Simpson nor his company, Impact Racing, have commented on this – to anyone. Due to the shroud of secrecy around it I reached out to the other helmet companies, Schutt was the only one to comment (there will be more added as they appear).
“While we regret that Collie is not wearing a Schutt football helmet right now, our foremost concern and priority has always been, and always will be, the protection and health of the players wearing our gear, especially a player with Collie’s injury history. It’s ultimately his choice which helmet he wants to wear, as it is with every player in the NFL. And we’ll welcome him back when he’s ready to switch back to a Schutt helmet.”
Regarding the “new helmet”:
“While we believe our helmets featuring TPU Cushioning set the standard of performance for football helmets, we’re as eager as anyone else to see different ideas and technologies applied to football helmet design. Without change there can be no progress in our battle with head injuries. Since we have not seen the helmet and its design details, however, we can’t say much more than “Congratulations. And good luck.”
It is not only Austin Collie that is donning this headgear for battle on the gridiron, but there are others that have been spotted with it on as well, including Troy Polamalu.
Some may have heard that this helmet is the Rawlings Quantum, but let me be the first to tell you that it is NOT a Rawlings. A person close to Rawlings (they are not part of Rawlings but has knowledge of the helmet) told The Concussion Blog that the helmet pictured is not a Quantum.
Sources very close to Simpson have told The Concussion Blog that the helmet pictured in the Collie 4.0 post is designed/made by Simpson and/or Impact Racing, through a collaboration with the Indianapolis Colts and some other players. As you can see in the picture below there are distinguishable differences in the Quantum helmet and the Simpson helmet.
Simpson and his team have partnered with Chip Ganassi Racing to produce the prototype, name yet unknown. There are a lot of unknowns about the helmet as a mater of fact. What is the shell made of? What comprises the interior of the helmet? Does it have sensors or telemetry built-in? Who is going to produce this helmet once Simpson/Ganassi are satisfied with the prototype?
Bill Simpson along with Chip Ganassi has brought auto racing helmet technology to the best 100 yards of grass on earth. Now only time will tell if it will make a difference. I am also willing to bet that the current helmet makers are drooling for his information.
SEE FOLLOW UP ARTICLE ON SIMPSON HELMET HERE