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Some Football Helmets More Protective, Concussion Study

Update Date: Jan 31, 2014 04:42 PM EST

Some football helmets offer more protection against head injuries, according to a new study.

Researchers analyzed head impact data gathered from eight collegiate football teams including Virginia Tech, University of North Carolina, University of Oklahoma, Dartmouth College, Brown University, University of Minnesota, Indiana University, and University of Illinois, between 2005 and 2010.

Researcher said that during the study period a total of 1,833 players wore helmets that were equipped with sensors to measure the biomechanics of over one million head impacts. Researchers compared the rates of concussion between the Riddell VSR4 helmets to the Riddell Revolution helmets.

The findings revealed that players wearing the Riddell Revolution helmets had a 54 percent reduced concussion risk compared to players in the VSR4 helmets.

Researcher explained that the sensors in the helmets measured head acceleration for each impact experienced by players. The findings revealed that players in the SR4 helmets experienced higher head accelerations resulting from impact than players in Revolution helmets

Researchers said the findings suggest that the Revolution helmets result in lower head accelerations because they are better at modulating the energy transfer from the impact to the head.

"Helmets that better lower head acceleration reduce concussion risk," lead author Steve Rowson, an assistant professor in the Virginia Tech - Wake Forest School of Biomedical Engineering and Sciences, explained in a news release.

However, researchers noted that no helmet will ever be able to prevent all concussions.

"While some helmets will reduce risk more than others, no helmet can eliminate risk," Stefan Duma, professor and head of the Virginia Tech - Wake Forest School of Biomedical Engineering and Sciences, said in a statement.

"The most effective strategies are altering league rules and teaching players better techniques. These strategies focus on reducing the number of head impacts that players experience," Duma said.

"However, head impacts in football will always occur, even with the best rules and technique. This is where improving helmet design to best reduce concussion risk becomes critical. Our data clearly demonstrate that this is possible," he added.

"This is the first study to control for the number of times players hit their heads when comparing helmet types," said Rowson. "No previous study has been able to account for this variable. Controlling for head impacts allows you to compare apples to apples. For example, you're not comparing a player in one helmet who rarely gets hit to a player in another helmet type who frequently gets hit."

The findings are published in the he Journal of Neurosurgery.

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