How has your child’s safety helmet been tested, and how can you tell if one helmet works better than a helmet made by a different company?
Currently, unlike many other safety items, there is no public information that allows consumers to compare helmets, the effectiveness, or how they can protect against head injuries such as concussions or traumatic brain injuries. While it is easy to go online and look at the safety information for a car or a baby product, no such websites exist for helmets, such as football helmets. In fact, an industry-wide agreement stops any information found by individual companies from reaching the public.
Now however, an engineer, researcher, and safety advocate at Virginia Tech is constructing an online database that will show and compare the effectiveness of different brands of helmets. The hope of Stefan Duma is that there will soon be a place for players and parents to go to examine exactly what their football helmet will protect them against.
In the future, Duma also hopes that his helmet tests will determine whether certain helmet designs can be made for certain players, as initial research has shown that the kind of hits a linebacker may take during a game are different from the kind of hits a wide receiver might incur.
Many in the sports world agree that it is time for a helmet revolution – at this time, all helmets used on the field only have to pass one safety test, developed by the National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment, which was developed almost 40 years ago.