The Virginia Tech University Research Center, which has made its name in the sports industry by rating football helmets for “their ability to lessen the likelihood of a concussion resulting from a violent head impact,” is expanding its scope to include helmets worn by hockey, baseball, softball, and lacrosse athletes.
Ratings on hockey helmets are expected in fall 2013, followed by youth football in 2015, and then baseball, softball, and lacrosse in 2016. During that time, all ratings for adult and youth football helmets will continually be updated and released to the public.
The new research is being funded by Virginia Tech, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the National Institutes of Health, and the Institute for Critical Technology and Applied Science (http://www.ictas.vt.edu/) at Virginia Tech.
Stefan Duma, a professor of biomedical engineering and department head of the Virginia Tech – Wake Forest University School of Biomedical Engineering and Sciences, did offer a caveat.
“It is important to note that no helmet can prevent all concussions. The most effective strategies to reduce concussions in sports involve modifying league rules and player technique to limit exposure to head impacts,” said Duma.
“Beyond this, head impacts are a given in sport. Our research focuses on identifying helmets that reduce concussion risk so that athletes can make informed decisions based on independent data when purchasing equipment, which in turn, incentivizes helmet manufacturers to design helmets that better reduce head acceleration.”