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Concussion risks dependent on football helmet designs: Study

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With concerns surrounding concussion risks on football players increasing, researchers are delving into the role of football helmet designs.

Some experts are of the opinion that a proper helmet design can reduce the occurrence of concussions, and now a new study endorses the view.

Researchers from eight colleges with football teams, including Virginia Tech University, placed sensors on the helmets of nearly 1,833 players and examined the rates of concussion on the players.

The study was conducted over six seasons from 2005 to 2010 and half the players wore a Riddell VSR4 helmet and the remaining donned Riddell's Revolution helmet. The two helmets were chosen owing to their ability of including the accelerometers that were deployed to track head hits.

Players from Brown, Minnesota, North Carolina, Dartmouth, Oklahoma, Indiana, Illinois, and Virginia Tech took part in the study. The findings were based on more than 1.2 million head impacts, which the sensors recorded.

The study, per lead researcher Steve Rowson of Virginia Tech, is the first to compare players on the basis of the number of times they got hit and the helmet type worn.

"Controlling for head impacts allows you to compare apples to apples," said Rowson. "For example, you're not comparing a player in one helmet who rarely gets hit to a player in another helmet type who frequently gets hit."

The study found that the Revolution helmet was far more effective in reducing concussions than its VSR4 counterpart. The Revolution helmet succeeded in reducing concussions by 54 percent. This design of this helmet was apparently able to transfer the energy from a hit more safely, slowing down the acceleration of the head in the process which is a major factor in causing concussion.

Per the researchers, the findings of the study affirms that helmets can indeed be designed to decrease the risk of concussions during gameplay.

"The point we tried to make is that these two helmets can reduce the risk of concussion," said Stefan Duma, a co-author of the study. "It all depends on the way you build the shell, the type of padding you use and other factors."

The study has been published in the Journal of Neurosurgery on Friday, January 31.

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