Cool Your Head: Add Protection

While doing this blog I get a ton of email with upcoming ideas and inventions for concussion issues.  They range from the simple to the sublime and some are worth investigating.  It has been our practice to not take a dime from anyone when writing about their product, and it should continue to be that way.  Rather, I feel that introducing/presenting products or information should be useful for the general public to form their own opinion (as I share mine here).  Hard data within A SOLID experiment is tough to discount, sure there are questions and will always be with anything, so with that in mind I like to present things I feel can be of benefit.  A huge part of this is feedback, via this blog’s comment section or email or to the product itself.

With all of that in mind I was very interested to see things from GelCool Systems, as they have a product that makes logical sense for overheating, but it has added benefits, as you will see with their post.  One thing this also takes into account, which I don’t think they thought of, was the expanding research in hypothermic treatment for concussions.  So here is their own post about the product, please feel free to comment here.

The Human Head is Responsible for 60% of the Body’s Cooling and Warming

GelCool Systems Patent-Pending Professional-Grade Gel Packs align with the helmet’s existing anti-trauma pads, maintaining the helmet’s proper fit and alignment while providing significant cooling benefit.  This cooling is graduated through a thermal distribution layer, so the athlete receives steady cooling over the entire cranium surface, avoiding the discomfort caused by a strong surge of cold temperature.  GelCool Systems gel packs are designed to deliver cooling within a safe range of 42-60 degrees (F) for the majority of the cooling period, which avoids negative thermal issues such as vasoconstriction or ice burns. Field testing has shown average cooling periods of 20 minutes in over 95 degree ambient heat. GelCool gel packs are a single piece, pliable insert that is very easy to insert or remove from a helmet: There is nothing to fasten or attach. It takes about 2 seconds to insert a pack in a helmet – less to remove it.

GelCool Gel Packs Absorb Some of the Concussive Energy to the Head from Traumatic Blows, Based on Certified Laboratory Testing GelCool_Systems_-_R4151-A

They Are Also Fully Compliant with NOCSAE Testing Requirements in Riddell Football Helmets (Revolution and VSR-4)

Laboratory testing shows that the presence of our gel packs inside the helmet reduces trauma to the head in concussive blows: in other words, improved concussion protection. To ensure that our gel packs are safe in the upper helmet, we performed rigorous lab testing at SIRC, one of the nation’s leading helmet testing labs and a NOCSAE-approved lab.  SIRC not only performed the required NOCSAE drop testing, but also advanced new rotational testing. The test data clearly showed that in terms of the helmet’s ability to absorb/dissipate the external forces exerted upon the head by heavy blows which might cause concussions, the presence of the GelCool gel pack in the helmet never made the helmet perform worse and in many cases allowed it to provide greater impact protection to the head by attenuating some of the impact force.

NOCSAE Certification Testing of the GelCool gel pack in the Riddell Revolution™ and Riddell VSR-4™ helmets was also completed with the official finding “compliant as tested”.   The Riddell Revolution™ and VSR-4 helmets with the GelCool Systems gel pack passed NOCSAE directed drop testing performed by NOCSAE’s certified testing group,

There were no tests in which the use of the gel pack in the helmet caused the helmet to perform materially worse.  GelCool Systems is prepared to release our testing data to any party that wishes to review it (and it is available for download on our website).  Our data includes the results of a multitude of drop and rotational impact tests performed in a highly controlled, scientific lab which is approved by the major helmet manufacturers.  The rotational tests struck the helmet from many different angles at very high velocity (hundreds of G’s).  The presence of the GelCool gel pack in the helmet did not have a material adverse affect on the helmet performance in any of the tests.  The NOCSAE-prescribed drop testing was performed using various drop heights and g-forces.  The helmet also passed these tests with the GelCool gel pack in place.

SIRC is a leader in its field and comprises a group of very experienced scientists who are themselves leaders in the science of helmet safety.  For more information about SIRC please visit

Trauma protection and head/brain cooling are critical on the football field.  And by maintaining lower cranial/brain blood temperatures, your athletes have greater endurance and mental sharpness in high heat environments.  Long before an athlete collapses on the field, he may be significantly affected by heat stress.  The first effects of the heat are not apparent, but can be devastating to your players and team.  Impaired decision making and delayed physical response are common early effects of the heat and they are hard to detect until the symptoms have progressed to a dangerous level.  By this time, treatment is far less effective.  Cooling the head with GelCool Systems gel packs is only one part of an overall heat safety program which must include proper hydration and core body temperature management, but GelCool gel packs help directly cool the brain, our most sensitive organ.


Typically, players simply switch packs when they come off the field, but in the case of an extremely long drive, equipment managers can carry multiple packs to the field. Medical research shows that cooling the cranium (not the neck) is the single most effective way of lowering blood temperature in the brain and helping cool the entire body, since 60% of the heat our body releases is through the upper cranium portion of the head.  The brain is far more sensitive to heat effects than any other organ.  While GelCool systems are cooling, they are rapidly pulling heat away from the player by means of thermal induction.  This is far more effective than the existing passive air cooling holes installed in football helmets. You may use your own coolers to cool the packs, or purchase a complete system from GelCool.

6 thoughts on “Cool Your Head: Add Protection

  1. Larry Wahl March 16, 2011 / 09:24

    Thanks Dustin for helping us get the word out. We look forward to the opportunity to answer any questions your readers/bloggers may have.

  2. Dave Halstead March 16, 2011 / 15:55

    SIRC did complete the testing and the data is as reported for that report number. I think keeping a player feeling cool could be of benefit, but there is little science to support that this device will in fact lower your body core temperature. That is a fairly easy test to conduct, but I do not see where that kind of testing was conducted. There does not seem to be data for actual body core temperature measurement, if I have missed that data then I would like to be directed to such data.
    SIRC is not approved by helmet makers, nor do I know of an approval program operated or overseen by helmet makers that approves laboratories. SIRC is an authorized NOCSAE lab by virtue of our A2LA accredited ISO 17025 certified status.
    Any claim that the impacts that cause concussion are mitigated by this padding system are not correct, nor is such a claim supported by the science or the testing done at SIRC. The testing demonstrates that the cooling pads do not prevent the helmet from meeting the NOCSAE impact criteria, and that is all they should be taken to mean. Claims that the risks of concussion while using this cooling system are lower are unsupported by the testing referenced.
    Potential negative consequences such as altered helmet fit or mass are not addressed in any of the testing conducted. In closing, while SIRC appreciates the mention we would rather not have our name used in conjunction with a product in a way in which it appears we endorse a product or in some way support the interpretations of our data and its potential meaning by others.

    • Dustin Fink March 17, 2011 / 08:28

      Thank you so VERY MUCH Dave!!! This is exactly the reason why I have posted this information. I truly appreciate all the work you do at SIRC!!! If I can ever help let me know…

    • Larry Wahl, GelCool Systems March 17, 2011 / 11:10

      The helmet business is a very large, multimillion dollar business with sophisticated, long-term players (companies, lobbies, etc.), and long-standing relationships (politics). SIRC and Dave have earned an outstanding reputation in the industry, and it is fair that Dave ask that his testing not be construed as an endorsement of any kind. But the planet Earth is flat. Or at least you would have been called a heretic if you said it was round in the 10th century. GelCool is trying to effect positive change as safely as possible, but change always entails some risk. Walking out the front door of our houses in the morning exposes us to danger, but we try to minimize that danger. GelCool has tried to minimize the danger of unintended side effects by testing in the lab and on the field. It is on that basis that we feel good about offering a helmet cooling alternative which was in place in the helmets when the helmets passed the NOCSAE drop test. But we do respect Dave’s work in the field and his right to his opinion. Hopefully, we can leave it at that and allow your readers to see what works for them – for example, no helmet testing is ever performed with a “doo rag” or “stocking cap” being worn by the anthropomorphic testing head. But we know that in the real world players wear these and other garments to be able to play in certain weather conditions. While the science may say they shouldn’t wear these things because they could change the helmet’s alignment, balance, or distribution of mass, other real world considerations (not getting hypothermia) are valid. We deeply respect the role of science in these matters, and we respect Dave and his crew as scientists, but we also feel that life is about balance, tradeoffs between acceptable risk and the cost of not effecting change.

      • Dustin Fink March 18, 2011 / 07:26

        A very professional comment Larry. Thank you for your time and for presenting the material for us to post. I have been encouraged with some of the feedback already.

  3. ray paschal December 13, 2017 / 00:26

    The easiest way to lower brain temperature is by cooling the carotid and cerebral arteries. Check out the Zero Degree Collar. Looks like a post conclusive device.

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