For years one of the most talked about topics in sports is the dangers of football. Specifically the head trauma involved for players, and concussions. In just five years from 2010 to 2015, the number of youth football players in America dropped from 3 million to 2.16 million (Moore, 2016). This 28 percent drop shows how much the new data and information about concussions is affecting the sport, and its perception around the country. The issue of concussions was widely overlooked by the football community for decades. In the past decade, leaps and bounds have been made to prevent concussions. From rule changes, to new technology in equipment everything has been tried, and still there were 271 concussions in the NFL last season (Seifert, 2016). Concussions seem inevitable in the sport, but how much can a new helmet made help dwindle the issue?
Head trauma, and concussions are a natural part of the sport due to the violent nature and consistent contact that the culture of the game emulates. The problem is, the issue of concussions was scoffed at for many many years. Given the nature of the game, the players are looked upon to be tough, and fight through injuries. This thought process proved detrimental to many players health prior to concussions really being looked upon as a serious problem in the sport. The NFL ignored the issue of concussions entirely until 1994 when they formed the Mild Traumatic Brain Injury Committee. Even then, concussions were looked at as part of the game, and it came with the territory of being a football player. A 2000 survey of former NFL players concluded that 61 percent of them had suffered a concussion at one point in their career. Of these players 79 percent said they were encouraged or forced to stay in the game despite their concussion symptoms. Finally, in 2009 the league acknowledged the dangers of head trauma and concussions (Petchesky, 2013). From then on, many changes have been made in attempt to make the game safer.
One of the newest changes that have attempted to help with the concussion epidemic in football is a new helmet that has been introduced this year. A company called Vicis has made a football helmet unlike any before. The company has been working on a helmet called “Zero1” for over two years now with countless amounts of research, design, testing etc. and it is set to unveil throughout the 2016 football season (Vicis, 2016). With a price of $1,500 it may seem like a price that is not worth it, but the numerous benefits it could bring to each individual player that wears it makes it worth every penny (Soper, 2016). All football helmets to this point have been similar in the fact that they have had a hard outer shell, the Zero1 is the first to have a deformable outer shell. To create this multi-layered outer shell Vicis used the same technology used by automotive safety engineers (Artefact, 2016). There are four layers of the helmets shell material, the deformable outer shell is made up of two parts the Lode Shell, and the Vicis RFLX. These allow the helmet to absorb and deflect the impact of a high speed collision, that happens numerous times in a game. The core layer has the same function of reducing impact with the use of vertical struts. The helmet has twelve different sizing combinations, all aided by the Vicis Axis fit system in which the individuals head length and breadth are both measured to find the perfect sized helmet. The distinguished team that helped create this product has all types of people from neurosurgeons, to engineers, to physicians, and a whole lot more. (Vicis, 2016). This video goes into detail about the helmet as described by the inventors themselves
The helmet is a very good concept, it is something that could pioneer a very beneficial change for the game of football. Overall, there may never be a helmet that can completely prevent concussions from occurring on the gridiron. But, the goal should be to create the best technology so that the risk of concussions is minimal compared to what it currently is. I think this helmet is a step in that direction.