April 1, 2012

Every day it seems there are new revelations about football coaches targeting opposing team members for injury. People in Portland who don’t know anything about the sport have surely heard about the video of a pro team’s “pep talk” that includes a team coach urging players to “kill Frank Gore’s head” and to take advantage of another player’s previous concussions.

Civil courts are dealing with multiple lawsuits against the NFL for keeping information from players about the effects of multiple blows to the head. Now that the targeting stories are coming out, it looks as if the criminal courts could be involved, too.

While all of this is going on, helmet manufacturers are working on making the game safer. A few companies have come up with new designs that should minimize the chance of injury or the effects of a blow to the head. When we left off in our last post, we were discussing a high school’s experience with a new helmet cover.

The cover is a soft outer shell of gel-filled pouches. It fits neatly over the regulation helmet and, according to the designers’ research and the high school team’s experience, reduces the effects of helmet-to-helmet impact. The cover also reduces the helmet’s effectiveness as a weapon; the gel pouches reduce the force of a blow to a hand, knee or leg, a force that could cause serious injury with a hard-shelled helmet.

The high school team tested the covers during practices (they weren’t sure the covers were regulation in their area), but the results were stunning. One year earlier, about a dozen kids missed one or two practices or a whole game because of suspected head injuries. With the soft covers, no one missed practices or games because of a possible concussion.

We’ll continue this in our next post.

Source: Reuters.com, “Football turns to helmet technology to tackle head injuries,” Scott Malone, April 2, 2012



Categories: Blog