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The Evolution of the Football Helmet

Updated on April 23, 2012

 In 2007 Brain and spinal cord.org estimated over thirty six thousand football players suffered from traumatic brain injury.  Surprisingly only one sport tops this statistic, cycling.  But regardless of the sport they have one thing in common, the helmet.  With an increase of traumatic brain injury and an increasing awareness of TBI, I thought a little time had to spent on how we are protecting our athletes through the evolution of the helmet!

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The NFL mandated the helmet as many as 60 years ago. Helmet were worn in the 1900's These versions of helmets are made of leather and covered the ears. Many criticized them because they were thought to be a hindrance in communication. In the 1930's they used a harder leather. George Barclay of Lafayette College is credited with creating the first head harness. Another person credited with the creation of the football helmet is Joesph M Reeves, a Naval midshipman. He was told he could not play football in the Army Navy game because of the risk of severe injury. He developed a helmet that had more padding.  Helmets with suspension were developed around 1915.  Helmets with  logos became popular around 1948.

The Center for Disease Control estimates traumatic brain injury affects 1.7 million people between 2002-2006. It is estimated that 52,000 of these injuries result in death. 275,000 of these injuries result in hospitalization.

In 2002 Riddell updated the football helmet and named it Revolution. This helmet is supposed to reduce the incidence of concussion. A study was completed at The University of Pittsburgh on the Revolution Helmet. After three years the data supported the Revolution Helmet. Data was taken among high school football players, ones who wore the revolution and ones who did not. Those high school football players who wore the revolution helmet rated at 5.2 % for concussions. Those without the helmet experienced 7.6% concussions. Another company the Schuttz Sports Group improved its helmet and called it DNA.  In August of 2010 Ridell won a suit against The Schutz sports group for patent infringement on concussion reduction technology.

 Concussion Reduction Technology or CRT is a concept created by the folks at Riddell.  These helmets boast of three components that help decrease the amount of TBI.  Riddell offers side and facial protection, increased offset, and a curved shell shape.  The increased offset shape offers more room between the head and the helmet.  The Tru curve Shell shape covers the mandible area. 

HITS Technology

Head Impact Telemetry System (HITS) technology is a device that can fit into your helmet.  This device can record data used t improve helmet preformance. It records impacts, location and magnatude of the impact.  This information can be directly downloaded into a computer.

 You are never too young for a football helmet.  If you have young ones who are playing any kind of contact sport a helmet is so essential!  The Youth Elite Helmet is one example of a football helmet. it has an offset shell and extended ear holes for ventilation.  Also included are stainless steel hardware and snap posts.  Parents liked this helmet for their six year old.

If you would like to learn more about traumatic brain injury visit the link above or checkout these books..

 The NFL has taken a stance on concussion and brain injury.  In the link included below, the NFL enforced guidelines about football players being forced to play when injured. A program was also started. This program enabled the patient or patients family access to a hotline to describe symptoms.  Three years ago when this was posted, researchers were looking into the correlation between Alzheimer's disease and concussions.

 Now  traumatic brain injury is on the priority list of the NFL and helmet manufactures like Rid-ell.  It will be interesting to see what changes or advances have been made in this area.  Do you think enough has been done to decrease the chances of concussion for football players?  feel free to leave your comments here!

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