First published in IPWatchdog
At the end of its 2015 season, including preseason and playoffs, the National Football League (NFL) saw a 32% increase in player concussions in comparison to its 2014 season. Concussions during the 2015 regular season alone rose 58%, the highest in four years according to ESPN. Of those regular season concussions, half were caused by contact with another helmet. As a result of repetitive brain trauma caused by concussions, football players are at a heightened risk for developing chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). Thus, helmet innovation and technology is an important protective measure in reducing the long-term effects of concussions.
IPWatchdog contacted Finnegan attorney Laith Abu-Taleb for his insight. Abu-Taleb said that while helmets today are reasonably effective at protecting from blunt impact, they do not effectively protect from other types of motion. He said, "A major weakness in helmets is that they do not protect from any twisting or torsion motion, for example when a wearer suffers an impact that forces his neck to rotate at a substantial speed. This is a major cause of concussions, as the brain rattles within the cerebrospinal fluid inside the skull as soon as the rotating comes to a stop, causing multiple potential points of impact between the brain and skull." One solution that Abu-Taleb discusses is sensors within the helmet to monitor the force and acceleration on the head. He said, "Real-time sideline wireless monitoring systems may help coaches and medical staff to pull players out after hits of a certain threshold, potentially before any concussion symptoms begin to present themselves. The sensors also help players adapt by allowing them to determine best practices for various tackles and hits, changing their game-play to a safer and more effective means."