Today’s health and safety news around football and more:
* For its January issue, Popular Science magazine wrote about the developments of helmets and the concussion issues around the headgear. The story not only gets into the testing and the making of football helmets, but also the politics involved in the business of safety.
For equipment manufacturers, the demand for protective headgear has never been greater. Leading companies, as well as an army of upstarts, have responded by developing a number of new helmet designs, each claiming to offer unprecedented safety. The trouble is that behind them all lie reams of conflicting research, much of it paid for, either directly or indirectly, by the helmet manufacturers or the league. For players or coaches or the concerned parents of young athletes, it’s hard to know whom to believe. And despite all the research and development, and the public outcry, the injuries just keep coming. What makes the situation even more tragic is that a helmet technology already exists that could turn the concussion epidemic around.
* Also, PopSci featured a graphic on the Multidirectional Impact Protection System — a revolutionary helmet that is being tested in Stockholm and created by ski helmet producers.
In a small room off the basement garage of a building on the outskirts of Stockholm, an entirely different kind of helmet test is taking place. Peter Halldin, a biomechanical engineer at the Royal Institute of Technology, is strapping a helmet onto a dummy head affixed to a custom drop-test rig. Rather than slamming a helmet into a stationary anvil, as in the NOCSAE test, Halldin’s rig drops it onto a pneumatic sled that moves horizontally. By calibrating the angle of the helmet, the height of the drop, and the speed of the sled, Halldin says he can more accurately re-create the angular forces that result in rotational acceleration than other labs can. Within the dummy head, nine accelerometers measure the linear force transmitted during impact; a computer nearby calculates rotational acceleration from that data. Today Halldin is testing two ski helmets that are identical except for one thing: Inside one, a bright yellow layer of molded plastic attached with small rubber straps sits between the padding and the head. This is the Multidirectional Impact Protection System (MIPS), which is also the name of a company he co-founded. Halldin spends about half of his time as CTO of MIPS and the other as a faculty member of the Royal Institute. The idea behind MIPS is simple: The plastic layer sits snugly on a player’s head beneath the padding. By allowing the head to float during an impact, MIPS can eliminate some of the rotational force before it makes its way to the brain.
* MIHockeyNow.com reported that the Michigan Amateur Hockey Association has adopted the concussion policies of USA Hockey.
* Speaking of hockey, Minnesota Wild forward Pierre-Marc Bouchard has been cleared to practice for the first time in a year after suffering a concussion last season, according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. He will likely play in the AHL with the NHL in the middle of a lockout.
* The Journal of the American Medical Association wrote about the study on youth concussions that will be run by the National Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Medicine.
* The Lakewood Ohio Patch website wrote about how Kent State student journalists are tracking high school concussions in the community.
* The Rome (Ga.) News-Tribune wrote about how the city will make concussion awareness a greater priority for its Parks & Recreation Authority.
* Men’s Fitness magazine offered five tips for coming back from a sports injury.
* And the Philadelphia Inquirer’s SportsDoc blog recalled the 10 most famous sports injuries in the city’s pro sports history.