Monday, May 19, 2014

Tech's Helmet Ratings Having Impact (So To Speak)

Researchers test helmets at Tech.
Those of you who believe that a large part of research done by universities is useless bullshit will want to read about the new football helmet ratings just issued by researchers at Virginia Tech. Not only are these ratings being posted in the lockerrooms of NFL franchises, but they are pushing teams toward buying the best ones and away from those not at the top of the list. It's a matter of safety in a sport that has very little of that built in.

The ratings are here, but as important as the new ratings are is that all five of the new helmets rated reached the highest level of safety (five stars), bringing to nine--of 23 so far evaluated--the number with the best rating. In the first rating three years ago, just one of the five helmets tested met the highest standard. The ratings are based on analysis of two million on-field hits of the kind football players take daily.

The ratings, funded by the National Institutes of Health, have had a direct impact on reducing head injuries among football players.

Steven Rowson, an assistant professor of biomedical engineering at Virginia Tech, says, “This is remarkable progress for helmet safety in football. Not only are consumers using the ratings to purchase helmets, but manufacturers are using our rating system to design new helmets to achieve five stars.

"Our tests are representative of the impacts that players experience on the field, so helmets that perform well in our tests are going to perform well on the field." Researchers will expand their explorations to include hockey helmets using newly developed testing methods this fall.

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