New study on football helmet safety

Dr. Sapna Parikh reports on the latest study
February 17, 2014 2:09:02 PM PST
They are the first line of defense in a violent sport but just how much protection do football helmets provide?

A new study reveals the ones currently used on the field may do little.

It's been thought that helmets are better at protecting the skull than the brain.

Especially important for young athletes who's brains are still developing. But so using new technology, these researchers put some popular helmets to the test, and here's what they found.

Dr John Lloyd and his colleagues tested 10 popular brands of helmets simulating an impact against a steel plate at 12 miles per hour.

On average the helmets lowered the risk of a broken skull by 60-70% but lowered the risk of a concussion by only 20%.

"The mechanisms that cause head injury vs. brain injury are quite different," said Dr. John Lloyd, research director, brains, inc?

The issue is physics with most collisions there's a straight force to the head, but also pressure from different sides, which most helmets are not designed to stop. The new research from the brains biomechanics research lab in Florida uses new sensors designed to test both.

"It's those angular or rotational forces that cause twisting of brain matter in the skull--it's that twisting that can give rise to concussions and traumatic brain injury," adds Dr. Lloyd.

Among the helmets tested these 3 came out on top overall but the researchers say none of them provided adequate concussion protection and what's needed are new helmets made of advanced more flexible materials.

"They change their form instantaneously so when you have an impact they harden instantaneously, and provide the necessary protection," adds Dr. Lloyd.

For now, some protection is better than none so it's still important to wear a helmet but also watch for signs of a concussion.

It's also still important to limit time of play for athletes, and try to strengthen the neck muscles.

The study will officially be presented in April at the American Academy of Neurology's annual meeting

To see the 10 helmet brands they tested and exactly how they ranked CLICK HERE