03 February 2016
Three Facts about the NFL's New Helmets Designed to Reduce Concussion Risk
It’s Super Bowl Sunday in a few days’ time. This year the Carolina Panthers and the Denver Broncos will do battle at the Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California to see who will lift the Vince Lombardi trophy.
American football seems to be more popular than ever in the UK. Over one million people here tuned into last year’s Super Bowl, and there’s even been recent talk of a UK-based NFL team one day. Nestled amongst all the previews and predictions that are found in the press, however, is an ever-growing concern about concussion in the NFL. In fact, the issue is such a big one that it’s the subject of a current Hollywood movie starring Will Smith (UK release date 12 February).
NFL Concussions at Four-Year High
According to NFL injury data released last week, concussions among NFL players reached a four-year high in 2015, with 271 players sustaining a concussion. A third of these were caused by a player’s helmet crashing against another player’s helmet.
We’ve blogged in the past about the NFL’s investment in concussion research but with the alarming new revelation that helmet-to-helmet collisions are causing so many concussions in the game, the latest developments in helmet technology have certainly caught our interest.
New Helmet Technology
A University of Washington start-up company called Vicis was one of the winners of last year’s Head Health Challenge, which sought to find solutions that help prevent, measure and detect brain injury.
Here are three facts about the Zero1 prototype helmet that Vicis has developed:
1. It’s designed inside-out. Unlike current helmets, Zero1 is hard on the inside and soft on the outside. This is to slow down the impact forces of a blow to the helmet before it gets to a player’s head.
2. It works like a car bumper. The outer ‘Lode Shell’ is a unique feature of Zero1. Much like how a car bumper works, the Lode Shell is made from material that absorbs impact before bouncing back into shape.
3. It looks just like an American football helmet. Although Zero1 has the latest technology designed to protect a player from concussion, it looks just like a traditional helmet. Vicis wanted the size, weight, look and feel to be similar to what’s out there at the moment so players are open to wearing it.
Current NFL helmets were modelled after motorcycle helmets. They were designed to prevent skull fractures, are not optimised to prevent traumatic brain injury or concussion and have not been updated since the 1970s.
Zero1 will be rolled out across the NFL next season, then perhaps to other sports too. Vicis is careful to point out on its website that no data exists as yet to support any claims of a “concussion-proof” helmet having been developed. The Zero1, however, looks like an amazing development in brain injury-reducing technology and hopefully when sports players start to use it, we could see concussion numbers start to fall.
Ken Brough is a senior personal injury solicitor at Slater and Gordon Lawyers in London.
Slater and Gordon provide a free consultation to anyone wishing to pursue a brain injury compensation claim. Call us anytime 24/7 on freephone 0800 916 9046 or contact us online and we’ll call you.
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