Virginia Tech releases adult football helmet ratings to help reduce risk of concussion

Published on May 18, 2013 at 8:33 AM · No Comments

Virginia Tech released today the results of its 2013 adult football helmet ratings, designed to identify differences between the abilities of helmets to reduce the risk of concussion. A total of four helmets achieved a 5 star mark, which is the highest rating awarded by the Virginia Tech Helmet Ratings-. The newly redesigned Xenith X2 joined the Riddell 360, Rawlings Quantum Plus, and Riddell Revolution Speed as the only helmets with a 5 star rating.

Two additional new helmet models introduced this year, the SG Adult Helmet and the Schutt Vengeance, were rated as 4 star helmets, denoted as very good. This category includes six existing helmets that have been rated with 4 stars in the 2012 Virginia Tech Helmet Ratings-: Schutt ION 4D, Rawlings Impulse, Xenith X1, Riddell Revolution, Rawlings Quantum, and Riddell Revolution IQ. The complete ratings are publicly available online so that consumers can make informed decisions when purchasing football helmets.

The Virginia Tech Helmet Ratings- for adult football helmets was created in 2011 based on research that included analysis of over 2 million head impacts recorded in high school and collegiate football games. The process used for evaluating helmets involves mapping the on-field exposure to laboratory tests. For each helmet model, 120 impacts are performed at multiple locations and impact energies. The exposure and impact data are then combined and compared to concussion risk using the STAR equation, an acronym for the Summation of Tests for the Analysis of Risk. Helmets that better manage the impact energy will result in lower head accelerations and thereby lower the risk of concussion. To date, 18 helmet models have been evaluated through the analysis of over 2000 laboratory tests.

"It is encouraging to see the progress in helmet design over the past two years. We were able to utilize funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to collect data that provided the foundation for this translational research. In addition to the high performing Riddell and Rawlings helmets of last year, you saw Xenith, SG, and Schutt all introduce new helmets this year that are performing very well," said project director Stefan Duma, the Harry C. Wyatt Professor and Department Head of the Virginia Tech - Wake Forest School of Biomedical Engineering and Sciences (SBES).

As observed in previous years, cost was not associated with performance, as the most expensive helmet was not the best performer. "Overall, we recommend players select one of the 4 or 5 star helmets. The specific helmet a player chooses will be dependent on additional factors such as a fit and comfort," said Duma. The other new helmet model introduced in the 2013 ratings was the Schutt Air XP Ultralite, which earned a 3 star rating. The remaining five football helmet models were rated with 3 stars or less.

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