Preventative Football Gear
There has been a lot of concern about injuries suffered by participating in contact sports. Head trauma is a concern and sports equipment designers and engineers are working to minimize these risks as the medical profession learns more about them.
Helmets are being designed with focus on head-cushion, comfort, and flexibility. They must meet strict safety standards. A well-designed helmet made with the best materials can prevent injuries in this high-impact sport. A critical factor is proper fitting of the helmet to the individual player. Helmets are sized and designed with interior air pocket adjustments for custom fit.
Fitting a Helmet
Being crushed by a muscular opponent is not the only way that a player can have head trauma. A poorly fitted helmet can be uncomfortable and cause severe injury. If a helmet is fitted too tightly, the wearer is going feel pain. If you think your shoes being too tight is an issue, try a clamp around your head. The Sports Depot website has an in-depth helmet-fitting guide. It simulates a sweat-drenched head for fitting accuracy and notes that redness or whiteness on the forehead means the helmet is fitted incorrectly and will be painful. A loose helmet can be extremely dangerous. If a player’s head moves even a small amount inside the helmet, some types of contact can cause a concussion. A jolting hit can even make a helmet fly off a player’s head, leaving the player vulnerable in a fast-moving and aggressive game.
So, how does a player get a good fit that will maximize protection?
- Careful measuring at the correct point of the head
- Altering head condition by soaking the hair
- Carefully adjusting interior air pockets by inflating them with a pump while on the player’s head
- Testing fit by rotating it on the player’s head so that the skin on the forehead moves with the helmet, but the helmet does not move independently
Taking these precautions will help reduce the chance of head injury while playing.
The Science of Impact
An article in Science News describes football impact. They say that players can run at nearly 20 miles per hour and experience 150 g’s force on impact. Concussions can occur at 100g’s and above.
Sports equipment manufacturers are not the only ones looking for improvements and solutions. Science News reports of theories that are being tested to make helmets safer. One controversial idea is to imbed magnets in the helmets to repel each other on impact. Supposedly this would lessen the impact significantly. Placed inside helmets, it is suggested that impact could be reduced to below 100g’s. The tests are being conducted using the same procedures the National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment uses on commercial football helmet evaluation.
So far, skeptics are not responding favorably to this theory, but it is interesting that science is looking at something more proactive than adding more padding
Sports Depot sells a new product that is made specifically to reduce the effect of impact to the head that causes concussions and brain injury. It’s a skull cap worn underneath a helmet that has been tested to reduce impact by 85% when worn with one of their wide range of a certified safety helmets. The crown of the cap is ringed with gel pads with two functions. They absorb impact and help to grip the helmet in place and keep it from moving. An added benefit is that the poly/spandex material wicks away sweat and helps keep the head cool. It has been successfully safety tested by CSA, HECC and NOCSAE. Sports Depot sells the Noggin cap currently for $29.99. Well worth it!
Also for sale are important helmet add-ons. They have a range of face guards that are fitted to the helmet. Most are carbon steel construction and have a variety of designs each aimed at high visibility and lowering frontal impact. The spacing of the bars on the face guard can be a defensive shield against opposing players grabbing the face guard. At the top end of the selection is one made of titanium. It is half the weight of the carbon steel and the strength of titanium helps to keep the bars from spreading over time.
Sports Depot also sells eye shields that fit inside the face guard and protect the eyes from debris churned up in the field during a skirmish. These range in price and most are made of polycarbonate. The high end of eye shields uses APVX. This material gives higher definition vison clarity and is more resistant to cracking.