Safety add-ons to football helmets such as outer soft-shell layers, spray treatments, pads, and fiber sheets may not significantly reduce the risk of concussion, according to a study scheduled to be presented at the upcoming annual meeting of the American Academy of Neurology.
Researchers tested four types of football helmet add-ons against a modified version of the standard NOCSAE drop test. They tested the Guardian Cap, UnEqual Technologies' Concussion Reduction Technology, Shockstrips, and Helmet Glide. All of the add-ons were added to both the Riddell Revolution Speed and Xenith X1 football helmets and dropped five times from heights of 1.0, 1.5, and 2.0 meters.
The add-ons were tested on crash dummies for a more realistic simulation of head impact. In order to measure impact, sensors were placed in the heads of the dummies to measure linear and angular rotational responses to impacts at 10, 12, and 14 miles per hour.
Compared to helmets without add-ons, the helmets fitted with the extra elements reduced linear accelerations by approximately 11%. However, they only reduced angular accelerations by 2%. The Helmet Glide add-on had no effect on accelerations.
Notably, angular accelerations are believed to be the main source of concussion-causing impact, and the researchers noted that most add-on products have not undergone biomechanical evaluation.
Football helmet add-ons such as outer soft-shell layers, spray treatments, helmet pads and fiber sheets may not significantly help lower the risk of concussions in athletes, according to a study presented at the American Academy of Neurology’s 67th Annual Meeting in Washington, DC.
“Our study suggests that despite many products targeted at reducing concussions in players, there is no magic concussion prevention product on the market at this time,” said study author John Lloyd, PhD, of BRAINS, Inc. in San Antonio, Fla., and a member of the American Academy of Neurology.