NFL Trying Techonology?

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.”

5 thoughts on “NFL Trying Techonology?

  1. SLB-ATC January 14, 2011 / 09:17

    I do have one question – Why is it with all of the issues related to concussions in the NFL, that the athletic trainers and physicians do not insist that the helmets fit properly? Too many players have helmet that fit like baseball caps and not the vise that they are to fit like.

    • Dustin Fink January 14, 2011 / 09:41

      Awesome question… I have some theories on that, one is that most schools don’t have an athletic trainer to be the “fit guru”, and the responsibility falls on the coaches, and even though they do a good job sometimes that is not a priority… Another is that high schools in particular, may not have all the right sizes for EVERY player and making helmet fit is a tough issue… There are ways to solve this problem, but no one want to take a look at that…

      And for the record, improperly fit helmets are, in my opinion, one of the most significant factors in concussions at the high school level, from purely observational data…

      • SLB-ATC January 18, 2011 / 11:59

        Dustin, you are correct and I understand that. I don’t like nor do I excuse it. My point is specifically related to the NFL itself. I asked a Division I FB athletic trainer about who fits there helmets. He told me that their equipment managers do the job. I asked him if anybody on his staff do a check of the helmet fits and of course they do not know. The helmets do not fit any better than they do in the NFL. And we wonder why there are so many concussion???

      • Dustin Fink January 18, 2011 / 13:43

        So very true and SAD!!!

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