Concussion rates in the NFL have decreased due to a new design of helmet. This week, the NFL announced that concussions were down 13% in the 2013 season and helmet-to-helmet concussions were down remarkable 23%. Jeff Miller, NFL vice president of safety and health policy, analyzed injury data from 228 diagnosed concussions during preseason and regular-season games and practices – down from 261 in 2012. This week, a study published by the Journal of Neurosurgery found that appropriate helmet design has the potential to reduce frequency of football-related concussions.
Riddell, one of the most prevalent helmet manufacturers, researched the nature of helmet design over six years by studying Virginia Tech, Indiana University, and six other NCAA football teams. Football players were compared when wearing the model Riddell VSR4 vs. the innovative Riddell Revolution helmets. From 2005 to 2010 over 1 million head impacts were biomechanically analyzed for concussion prevalence. Each of the players’ helmets were equipped with sensors that determined head acceleration for every contact a player experienced. The test found that players wearing the Revolution helmets experienced a 54% drop in concussion rate compared to those utilizing the older VSR4 model.
While no helmet can completely eliminate the risk of a concussion, the point of the study wasn’t to test which helmet was better, but to test if helmet design can assist in the reduction of concussions among football players. Over the course of the study, 3% of players sustained concussions. Such a low number in concussion rate was attributed to Riddell’s Revolution model – the VSR4 is now discontinued because of this. With the new design of the Revolution, concussion rate have decreased.
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), football is the sole proprietor for concussions among sports resulting in hospital visits and traumatic brain injury. 30% of the aforementioned injuries come from football, while soccer and basketball follow at second and third with 16% and 15% of visits, respectively. Duma stated that although improvements in helmet technology will undoubtedly lessen the rate of concussions in football, head injuries will still occur. She explained that the most effective strategies are changing league policies and educating players on better techniques. Recently, the NFL stated that their rule changes, including the ban on helmet-to-helmet contact, have significantly aided the reduction in the concussion rate.
The VSR4 was one of the most popular styles of helmets in football up until its discontinuation in 2011. The Revolution has been around since 2002; however, it did not see the same likeability as the VSR4.
Currently, NFL players are allowed to wear the helmet of their choice. Nevertheless, Riddell has been the only helmet manufacturer allowed to display its name on its product, because of an exclusive contract signed in 1989. Upon the consummation of the 2013 season, the NFL will end the contract. The NFL will seek to instate the new revolution helmet as a staple among professional football players. By doing this, concussion rates will undeniably decrease due to their new design.
By: Alex Lemieux