I was forwarded this NOCSAE press release from a very prominent AT in the NCAA, and although the sender declined to comment, it was his intention to get mine. I feel it would be good to comment and publish this press release here. You can find the press release, dated July 3, 2013 HERE.
The purpose of the information provided by NOCSAE was to clear up some perceived and often misunderstandings about the Virgina Tech Helmet Ratings for football helmets. Like NOCASE, I encourage the research into helmets, the first line of defense against blunt force trauma to the head in collision sports (rodeo included). However, there are some things that may need explaining.
Now by no means am I taking sides here, I feel Stefan Duma and his cohorts do a tremendous job, as well as the current helmet makers. I feel that everyone is doing their part to provide the safest equipment possible. As one person in the helmet industry has told me on many occasions “Don’t you think if we knew or had ways to decrease concussions they would already be on our product?” He is exactly right.
Back to the post at hand here, the press release notes some issues that the STAR rating system has;
“NOCSAE is concerned that some helmets in the 2013 STAR rating, without a change in design or materials, were moved from a 3 STAR rating to a 5 STAR rating after being retested, but not all brands/models were retested. Another helmet model retested in 2013 went from a 4 STAR to a 3 STAR with no design changes. If all helmets had been retested, it appears reasonable to believe that other helmets also may have moved into and out of different STAR categories.”
This is an issue for everyone, why did some helmet models get retested and others did not? And why did some change in STAR value when nothing had been changed on the helmet?
More importantly, if this database and testing is designed for concussions then why are factors such as rotational and angular force not taken into consideration;
“The consensus of scientific experts agree that rotational accelerations are involved in many, if not almost all, concussive events, although no correlated injury threshold for rotational accelerations has been found.”
Moreover, why – as has been discussed in the comment section of our previous posts about helmets – has fit not been approached? I assume the fit in the laboratory is perfect each time, great! How well do these types of helmets do when Johny and Billy play with their helmets flopping around in the wind?
There are too many factors to include when considering concussions in the sport of football, let alone all sports. This is a complex injury all the way around; from incidence to reporting to recovery. Pinning the hopes of salvaging a player from concussion based upon a rating system is flawed thinking by anyone (if you don’t think people are making, what they thing are informed decisions, choices based on this alone you are nuts).
I am not advocating taking helmets away or not trying to get them better, that should be a priority to some. I am merely trying to point out that with all the information about concussions out there why are we relying upon perfect/ideal laboratory situations to make decisions.
For best protection, in my opinion, players must be outfitted in a helmet – when properly fitted – provides comfort. As one commenter stated take a look at Peyton Manning’s head after a game, that red mark on the forehead, is what every helmet should fit like.
Furthermore, concussions are not limited to linear forces; they are a result from acceleration and deceleration of the brain within the skull. That can be forward-backwards, side-to-side, up-and-down or in most cases a violent combination of all of those.