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New tests for helmets proposed in concussion fight

Shown is equipment that can test how helmets perform against concussion-causing forces.

Southern Impact Research Center

Shown is equipment that can test how helmets perform against concussion-causing forces.

WASHINGTON — There is no concussion-proof football helmet, but manufacturers may soon have to meet new testing standards against certain concussion-causing forces — a step in the quest for more protection.

The organization that sets safety standards for athletic equipment was preparing to adopt the testing criteria today.

It is part of a movement to try to make contact sports safer, as concern about concussions is growing. There's even a new smartphone app to help parents and coaches recognize right away if a player may have a brain injury.

Football helmets were designed to protect against catastrophic injuries such as skull fractures and bleeding in the brain, and are considered highly effective at that. They're tested for how they withstand direct blows, so-called linear forces that can make the brain bump back and forth.

The proposed new standard would add an additional test of how helmets perform when an impact also makes a player's head suddenly spin, causing the brain to stretch and twist inside the skull as it changes direction. Scientists call that rotational acceleration, and brain specialists say limiting both kinds of forces is important.

"We're plowing new ground here," Mike Oliver, executive director of the National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment, told the Associated Press.

The hope is that the standard might eventually spur safer helmet designs.

Once the standard goes into effect, expected in about a year, it would apply only to new helmets.

New tests for helmets proposed in concussion fight 06/19/14 [Last modified: Thursday, June 19, 2014 9:39pm]
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