March 1, 2024

In 2023, the football helmet industry made significant strides in safety and technology to protect players more effectively.  Many football helmet safety advancements have been made over the years.  2023 has seen an acceleration in research and advancements.

  1. The NFL introduced position-specific helmets, focusing on creating helmets tailored to the needs of different player positions. This innovation targets the unique impact profiles experienced by players, such as quarterbacks and offensive and defensive linemen. The quarterback-specific helmet, the VICIS ZERO2 MATRIX QB, outperformed the most popular helmet from the previous season by 7% in specialized testing. Some position-specific helmets were introduced before 2023.  To be more specific, the NFL and NFLPA announced the availability of a quarterback-specific helmet for the first time during the 2023 season.  They indicated that this was a new introduction. However, the concept of position-specific helmets had already been part of the NFL’s safety and innovation strategy before 2023. For example, the introduction of offensive and defensive linemen-specific helmets occurred in the 2021 season. This move towards position-specific helmets represents a significant shift in helmet technology.  It aims to provide tailored protection based on different player positions’ unique demands and impact profiles.  For example, the quarterback-specific helmet was developed in response to data showing that half of all quarterback concussions occur when their helmets hit the ground, creating a helmet designed to mitigate those specific impacts.
  2. In collaboration with Savior Brain, researchers at Stanford University developed helmets with liquid shock absorbers. This cutting-edge technology aims to reduce the force of impacts by a third compared to conventional helmets. The design integrates liquid shock absorbers into the helmet structure.  This significantly mitigates the risk of concussions and brain injuries from head impacts. Savior Brain and Stanford University researchers developed helmets equipped with liquid shock absorbers in 2023. These innovative helmets aim to significantly reduce the force of impacts, potentially lowering the risk of concussions and other head injuries in football. By incorporating liquid shock absorbers, the helmets can cut the impact of blows to the head by a third compared to traditional models. The technology is based on extensive research and testing, demonstrating its effectiveness in protecting players. This advancement represents a significant step in helmet safety, offering a promising solution to mitigate brain injuries in contact sports.
  3. Extensive helmet testing and innovation efforts continued, led by the NFL in partnership with biomechanical engineers and medical experts. These efforts include rigorous testing to simulate on-field conditions, driving the development of helmets that significantly reduce impact severity.  As a result, the NFL’s partnership with biomechanical engineers and medical experts has significantly advanced football helmet safety.  It has achieved a 25% reduction in concussions over five seasons. This collaboration focuses on rigorous helmet testing, simulating real on-field conditions to assess how well different helmet models minimize impact severity. The league has rapidly improved helmet technology through these efforts, with innovations such as position-specific helmets for quarterbacks and linemen leading the charge. These helmets have topped the NFL-NFLPA rankings, underscoring the success of customizing protection to the needs of different player positions. This proactive approach highlights the NFL’s commitment to enhancing player safety by harnessing expert knowledge and the latest technology to prevent concussions.
  4. LSU’s Mechanical Engineering researchers are developing a new football helmet prototype. This project aims to surpass current market helmets in protecting against head impacts. The team explores innovative materials and designs, including advanced composite materials and 3D-printed structures, to optimize helmets’ protective capabilities.The prototype for a football helmet aims to outperform all existing helmets on the market regarding protection and isolation from head impacts. Led by Assistant Professors Hunter Gilbert and Genevieve Palardy, along with other team members. The project began after participating in the NFL’s Helmet Challenge Symposium in November 2019. This initiative seeks to leverage advanced materials and innovative design strategies. Including 3D-printed structures and composite materials to enhance the helmet’s ability to absorb and distribute impact forces. The team is working towards having the prototype ready for testing by the summer of 2024.  The iterative design process incorporates learnings from initial testing into further improvements. In addition to advancing helmet safety, the project serves as a tool for engaging students and showcasing the diverse applications of mechanical engineering.

Football helmet safety advancements underscore a comprehensive effort to enhance player safety in football through technological innovation, rigorous testing, and collaborative research. The focus on position-specific protection, cutting-edge materials, and design strategies marks a significant leap forward in reducing the incidence and severity of head injuries in the sport.

References

NFL Introduces New QB Helmet for 2023 Season – https://boardroom.tv/qb-helmet-vicis-nfl-2023/

Helmet Innovation: Continued Advancements to Keep Players Safe –  https://www.nfl.com/playerhealthandsafety/equipment-and-innovation/engineering-technology/helmet-innovation-continued-advancements-to-keep-players-safe

NFL Enters Next Era of Helmet Safety with Advent of Quarterback-Specific Helmet –  https://www.nfl.com/playerhealthandsafety/resources/press-releases/nfl-enters-next-era-of-helmet-safety-with-advent-of-quarterback-specific-helmet

New high-tech helmets may protect American football players from debilitating concussions –  https://www.frontiersin.org/news/2023/06/09/new-high-tech-helmets-may-protect-american-football-players-from-debilitating-concussions

Mechanical Engineering Researchers Developing New Football Helmet Prototype – https://www.lsu.edu/eng/news/2023/10/new-football-helmet-prototype.php

Helmet Laboratory Testing Performance Results – https://www.nfl.com/playerhealthandsafety/equipment-and-innovation/equipment-testing/helmet-laboratory-testing-performance-results

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