NOCSAE Advancing Testing?

Perhaps, pending a vote in June, new standards could be set to get a helmet NOCSAE certified.  The news comes as the research arm has come up with plans for a testing scenario for something beyond linear drops;

The National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment (NOCSAE) board of directors has approved the development of a revised football helmet standard that will require helmets to limit certain concussion causing forces.

You can see the full NOCSAE Jan 24 Release by clicking on the link.

It has been a long while since the standards have changed, but the calls for including more “realistic” type of scenarios in place have been loud for some time.  Including your’s truly, who believe that the rotational and angular forces were woefully under represented in any sort of testing.  I have been told by one representative with vested interest in this that for years the issue has been that these type of tests were “not repeatable.”

If everyone can be on the same footing with this and these new ideas actually translate to the “real world” then I am all for it, no matter the cost.  However, if this is something that is pure window dressing and will not actually impact a change – if that is even possible – then we are wasting time and money.

NOCSAE Press Release Clarifies

NOCASE sent me the most recent press release; pertaining to the aftermarket/third-party additions to helmets. Here it is in full;


Certification to NOCSAE Standards and Add-on Helmet Products

OVERLAND PARK, Kansas – August 8, 2013 – The National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment (NOCSAE) has released the following statement regarding equipment certified to NOCSAE standards and add-on helmet products.

“Products designed to be added to a football helmet are being marketed and sold; some are intended to measure impacts, while others are expressly marketed as improving a helmet’s performance. Some products claim the ability to protect against concussions. Regardless of the truth of such claims, the addition of those products to a certified helmet changes the model, by definition, under the NOCSAE standards.

“For many years NOCSAE standards have defined a helmet model as a helmet “intended to be identical in every way, except for size.” Any changes, additions or alterations of the model, except for size, color or graphics, even if made by the original manufacturer, require that a new model name be created and a separate certification testing process begin for that new model. This concept of limiting certification to a specific model is commonly found in national and international helmet standards.

  • NOCSAE itself does not certify any product, it does not “approve” or “disapprove” of any product, and has no authority to grant exemptions or waivers to the requirements imposed by the standards it writes.
  • The addition of an item(s) to a helmet previously certified without those item(s) creates a new untested model. Whether the add-on product changes the performance or not, the helmet model with the add-on product is no longer “identical in every aspect” to the one originally certified by the manufacturer.
  • When this happens, the manufacturer which made the original certification has the right, under the NOCSAE standards, to declare its certification void. It also can decide to engage in additional certification testing of the new model and certify the new model with the add-on product, but it is not required to do so.
  • Companies which make add-on products for football helmets have the right to make their own certification of compliance with the NOCSAE standards on a helmet model, but when that is done, the certification and responsibility for the helmet/third-party product combination would become theirs, (not the helmet manufacturer). That certification would be subject to the same obligations applicable to the original helmet manufacturer regarding certification testing, quality control and quality assurance and licensure with NOCSAE.
  • Products such as skull caps, headbands, mouth guards, ear inserts or other items that are not attached or incorporated in some way into the helmet are not the types of products that create a new model as defined in the NOCSAE standards and are not items which change the model definition.”



I read it simply as this;  Continue reading

HITs Takes a Hit… Maybe

Solid research is produced over a long period of time with validation and verification of standards.  When using tools there must be a set of numbers that validate what data is being collected – in short to make sure the data is “good”.  This has been a problem with many things in the concussion realm, most notably with computerized concussion testing.  However last night I received an email with an abstract regarding the Head Impact Telemetry system or HITs.

Before we go further you will need to familiarize yourself with a couple of statistical terms: absolute error and root-mean square error.

Absolute Error is the amount of physical error in a measurement, period.  The example I found was when using a ruler on the metric side the absolute error of that device is +/- 1mm.

Root-Mean Square Error is a frequently used measure of the differences between values predicted by a model or an estimator and the values actually observed.  This measure is used to compile the deflection of errors in predictions and is good summation of accuracy, which only holds true for a particular variable not between variables.  In other words RMSE shows us how accurate the data is compared to its model/validation.  If this number is high it can show that either the model was incorrect or that the data was compiled incorrectly.

Appearing in the online version of the Journal of Biomechanics researchers from Wayne State (one of the notable places for head impact testing) found that a difference in helmet size on the Hybrid III head model has called into question the validity of the HIT system (abstract);

On-field measurement of head impacts has relied on the Head Impact Telemetry (HIT) System, which uses helmet mounted accelerometers to determine linear and angular head accelerations. HIT is used in youth and collegiate football to assess the frequency and severity of helmet impacts. This paper evaluates the accuracy of HIT for individual head impacts. Most HIT validations used a medium helmet on a Hybrid III head. However, the appropriate helmet is large based on the Hybrid III head circumference (58 cm) and manufacturer’s fitting instructions. An instrumented skull cap was used to measure the pressure between the head of football players (n=63) and their helmet. The average pressure with a large helmet on the Hybrid III was comparable to the average pressure from helmets used by players. A medium helmet on Continue reading

Virginia Tech Responds to NOCSAE Press Release

Yesterday we posted the NOCSAE statement regarding the Virginia Tech Helmet Ratings, as with most things in life this is only one side of the story.  NOCSAE is doing what they feel is in their best interest; likewise the rating system and its researchers – namely Stefan Duma – are doing what they thing is good work.

Fortunately for everyone out there this blog reaches far and wide and provides an outlet for openness and comments from all that choose to do so.  As I have stated many times I try to bring a balanced source for information regarding concussions.  With that being said, Stefan Duma reached out to us to clear up some of the information from NOCSAE, from his and the Virginia Tech Helmet Ratings.  Below is the email I received from Stefan;  Continue reading

Speaking of Helmets, NOCSAE Press Release

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 Continue reading


NOCSAE is teaming up with the CDC to make an effort to get the parents educated in the area of concussions.  The CDC has made a great effort with the coaches and health care providers by producing material specific to those areas.  Although there has been some material for parents this effort will be focused on the moms and dads;

The National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment (NOCSAE) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are teaming up to launch “Heads Up to Parents,” a new educational initiative designed specifically to provide parents with the facts about how to protect, prevent and respond to youth and high school athlete concussions. The partnership, made possible by a grant from NOCSAE to the CDC Foundation, builds on the CDC’s successful “Heads Up” initiative featuring free tools for coaches, athletes, parents and healthcare professionals that provide important information on preventing, recognizing and responding to a concussion.

If there is not an athletic trainer or doctor Continue reading

NOCSAE Press Release


OVERLAND PARK, KANSAS, June 13, 2011 – The National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment (NOCSAE) Summer Board Meeting will take place in Chapel Hill, N.C., June 17. During this meeting, the organization will review a report from the new Scientific Advisory Committee and consider and approve research grant requests. The agenda also will include consideration and discussion of a new youth football helmet standard, a new women’s lacrosse helmet/head protection standard, a new defensive position head/face protection standard for baseball and softball, as well as potential modifications and clarifications to existing standards.

NOCSAE is an independent and nonprofit standard-setting body with the sole mission to enhance athletic safety through scientific research and the creation of performance standards for protective equipment. Formed in 1969, NOCSAE is a leading force in the effort to improve athletic equipment and, as a result, reduce injuries. NOCSAE efforts include the development of performance and test standards for football helmets and facemasks, baseball and softball batters and catchers helmets, baseballs and softballs, ice hockey helmets, soccer shinguards, lacrosse helmets and facemasks and polo helmets.

NOCSAE is a primary source for research funding in all sports medicine and science related areas and is the leading nongovernmental funding source for sports concussion related research. Since 2000, NOCSAE has devoted more than $2.5 million toward this research by the foremost experts in sports medicine and science to develop and advance athlete safety. Since 1995 NOCSAE has dedicated more than $4 million in concussion-related research involving some of the nation’s leading academic and research institutions.

You can contact Rebecca Rausch at for further information.

Helmet Rating Database

The public has “Consumer Reports” on everyday goods and cars, an open rating system for goods, so why not helmets for football?  That was until now as researchers at Virginia Tech have used years of data on hits and helmets to create a database accessible by the public on football helmets;

Stefan Duma and his research assistants unveiled Wednesday a formula derived from years of data collected on the head impacts of football players, including players at Tech. The formula will be used to find the number of concussions that one player may experience in one season using a specific helmet.

The result will be a first-of-its-kind online searchable database of every new helmet being sold. Currently about 25 different adult-size helmets are manufactured by six companies.

This is not as acknowledged by Duma a “perfect” system, however it is a beginning, and we agree that why not start now.  Perhaps there will be a owness on the manufacturers with a rating system to be even more vigilant in creating a better product.

The database is expected to be ready by May, Continue reading

NOCSAE: Warning Issued

This is a press release, in full from NOCSAE, a warning for all parents and players;

OVERLAND PARK, KANSAS, February 4, 2011 – The National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment (NOCSAE) issued a warning to athletes and parents of athletes to get the facts about football helmets and concussion protection – and not rely solely on marketing and promotional materials. NOCSAE is an independent and nonprofit standard-setting body with the sole mission of enhancing athletic safety through scientific research and the creation of performance standards for protective equipment.

“As we all prepare for the Super Bowl, football’s biggest celebration of the season, there is one fundamental fact every athlete and parent of an athlete needs to know: no football helmet can prevent all concussions,” said Mike Oliver, NOCSAE executive director. “Because of the efforts of researchers, manufacturers and others, the progression and improvement of football helmets over the last 20 years has been remarkable. We have no doubt that technology will continue to improve. But claims or representations that a particular helmet is anti-concussive or concussion-proof, without scientific support, can be misleading and dangerous.”

For the most reliable information regarding helmets and concussion protection and prevention, NOCSAE encourages athletes and parents to carefully review: Continue reading

NOCSAE; Moving Quickly

At the end of the Winter Board Meeting, some things were left undecided, but one area that was bandied about was the “audit” of helmet manufacturers and their testing.  Well, NOCSAE has reacted quickly with a press release about that subject:

OVERLAND PARK, KANSAS, January 24, 2011 – The National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment (NOCSAE) recently required football helmet manufacturers to submit all certification test data, quality control and sample selection documentation for all football helmets manufactured or sold within the past 10 years. All football helmet manufacturers have complied with the request. NOCSAE is an independent and nonprofit standard-setting body with the sole mission to enhance athletic safety through scientific research and the creation of performance standards for protective equipment.

“NOCSAE made this request as part of our ongoing effort to evaluate all aspects of the football helmet standard and evaluate potential changes to the standards relating to lower level impacts,” said Mike Oliver, NOCSAE executive director. “We are the only organization that brings together key areas of expertise to work together on behalf of athletes. Through our process, physicians, academic researchers, coaches, athletic trainers and manufacturers come together to establish standards that are designed to provide the maximum amount of protection to the athlete. In addition to our request for data, Continue reading