Necessity of Quality Football Helmets in American Football

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Summary

A football helmet is an equipment of protective measure that is majorly used by American football players in gridiron football. It is made up of a hard plastic shell coated with a very thick padding inside. Additionally, there is a face mask made from plastic coated bars and a chain strip. Every position is required to have a different type of face mask that enables the players to balance visibility and protection. Some professional players have gone to the extent of polycarbonate visors within their helmets that assist to guard their eyes against impacts and glaring light. The football helmet is a necessity for all players in football with the exception of non-tackle variation in flag football. Even though these equipment is protective, several players do suffer from severe head injuries and concussions that lead to termination of their careers in American football (Cantu 2007).

Introduction and History

In the early 1900s, the football helmets were made from hardened leather. They mainly consisted of earflaps and very little ventilations which made it nearly impossible for players to hear one another within the fields. The padding that was within the helmets provided very little protection. This was a direct recipe for injuries to the players. This was in the 1920s. In the 1950s, polymers were introduced within the structure of the helmet and later the face masks. In 1990s, the recent advanced designs are now in use and they offer better protection to the players. The recent modernization of the helmets has enabled the introduction of technological changes in order to improve the safety of the players (Pallasman Neurology 2011).

Despite all these numerous protective measures, injuries, traumas to the head and concussions are still very likely to occur. Furthermore, in relation to these traumatic brain injuries related to concussions, medical experts have also hinted on the risk of players suffering from long term chronic traumatic encephalopathy (Cantu 2007). Most of the symptoms that are related to concussions have long lasting effects. Cases of memory loss, brain damage and post-concussion Syndromes have been on the rise. This usually occur in the event that a player is not well treated after having a concussion. This post-concussion Syndrome come with emotional, cognitive and physical behavioral symptoms that take a very long time to resolve (Duma SM Rawson 2011). This research proposal will ultimately bring the much needed awareness about concussions. In addition, we shall be made aware of how wearing the safety helmets that are being produced today can assist to prevent head injuries and concussions. It is my humble request that you accept the merits of my proposal to enable me begin the research as soon as possible.

Research Problem

During the process of the football game, there is a chance that the player will sustain a head injury even though they have put on the protective helmets. The modern helmets still may do very little to protect them from hits on their head sides, rational force and this may cause brain damage and in the worst case scenario lead to encephalopathy. The protection from such concussions and damages to the brain is vital for the young players who are in elementary and middle level schools. Their brains are still in development stages are more likely to sustain lasting traumas. These assessments have led to very many breakthroughs to develop safety helmets today.

Topic of Study

Our topic of study will be how the modern helmets in football have made great advances in achieving better protection to football players and reduced the chances of brain damage or concussions. On this matter, we shall focus on material nature of the helmets, differences between the old and new helmets, the type of padding used within the helmets as well as the fact the veteran football players are opting to use the newly advance helmets. Lastly we shall check how the helmets are comfortable and how thy enhance visibility.

Importance of This Proposal

The protective effectiveness of football helmets has not been conclusively done. The major importance of this proposal is to understand the role that the football helmet plays in the prevention of concussions and brain damages. Athletes and sportsmen have been growing bigger, faster and stronger leading to more forceful injuries. We need to analyze the mechanisms by which this concussions underlie and the mechanisms that can be adapted to reduce them. Most veteran footballers hinted to the fact that enhanced rules and regulations will to decrease the concussions and head damages (New York Times 2018).

This include, rules enforcement, rules adjustments, rule reforms and proper education to the players and coaches. In addition, there has been increased lobbying to have modifications and adjustment of helmets and additional mouth guards. The helmets reduce to a great extent, the risk of severe TBI as a result of the conclusion. This is done by a decrease in acceleration of the head on impact. We shall discuss the components and parts of the helmets to see how it cushions the head from severe damage.

What Materials Are Used To Manufacture The New Helmets And Design?

Materials that are used for the production of football helmets have evolved from the old fashioned leather to polycarbonate shells. These modern plastic helmets are molded from the polycarbonate and cushioned inside with a type of padding. This padding is either polystyrene, polypropylene, ethylene or vinyl acetate. In addition, there thermoformed mouth guards that are of plastic form that are useful in protecting the hard and soft tissues within the mouth from injuries during collision. They mouth guards play a key role in absorbing the shock impact to the head.

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There is a face mask that is made of metal bar or plastics which is normally attached in front of the helmet. There are open cage and closed cage face masks. The open cage face masks are normally preferred by quarterbacks, running backs and defensive back fielders. The closed cage face masks are preferred by lines men (NOCSAE 2014). Additionally, there is a chain strap that is made of plastic that makes sure that the helmet is well intact within the head of the athlete at all times. The latest technological advancement is the installation of radio receiver within the helmets. This are used by coaches to relay information to the players no their signal callers. The logo of the team is usually put on both sides of the helmet. A standard football helmet as verified by the National Operating Committee on standards for Athletic Equipment on head protection is as below.

In What Ways Are These New Helmets Different From The Old Generation Helmets?

The initial use of headgear in football dates back in 1869 when George Rose from the college of Lafayette began using straps and ear pieces for the protection of his ears. The navy later developed a head gear from moleskin. In the 1920s, helmets were majorly made out soft leather. They did not have the face masks. Later on hardened leather was adopted and these were better in cushioning the head even though they lacked face masks. It was until 1947 that the NFL introduced the first plastic helmets seeing an end to the leather based ones. It was single modeled, stronger and longer lasting (Bartsch A, Benzel 2012).

Later advancements in the 70s resulted to the micro fit helmets that had valves on their crowns which allowed air to be pumped into the vinyl cushions. The manufactures of this old masks during the 70s adopted the thick foam type of padding. In addition, the new helmets that have received a five star rating decrease the impact on the head acceleration but almost half as compared to the previous ones. For example, assuming a player received a blow of G-force 100, the newer helmet will only feel 50 G-force as compared to the old one. The old helmets have a tubing inside that fills with air. The new ones have a padding which has been considered to be a better option in reducing impact. Lastly, the foam in the older helmets will always harden when the weather is cold. This makes it uncomfortable for the players using it.

What Type of Padding Is Used Inside These New Helmets?

The most acceptable requirement in the manufacture of a football helmet is a material that is light weight, strong and tough. The interior should be padded to increase cushion on the head. This padding is either polystyrene, polypropylene, ethylene or vinyl acetate. In addition, there thermoformed mouth guards that are of plastic form that are useful in protecting the hard and soft tissues within the mouth from injuries during collision. They mouth guards play a key role in absorbing the shock impact to the head (NOCSAE 2012).

The polycarbonate shell acts as the external pad that safe guards against tough objects within the field of play. There is a stiff extended foam that covers the entire head. On all the levels of this extended foam is extra padding of varietal stiffness. All this protection is covered under a form liner. On the top part of the helmet is the vinyl Nitryl foam. It is quite thick and ensures that there is a protective layer that adds protection from the impact of another players head during collision. As we are very aware, majority of the tackles are done on a head down position. In addition, there is a soft foam on the foreheads and lower jaws since this area is not susceptible to much impact. Air bladders are also used as padding in unique helmets as they increase a layer of padding for comfort on the head. This is located at the rear end of the helmets and the player is at liberty to add or remove air from the bladder to adjust the level of comfort.

Why Are Veteran Players Opting Not To Use These New Helmets?

The National football league normally holds some seminars for the team equipment managers and there seems to be zero oversight as far as the helmet aspect is involved. This means that the decision to put on the new helmet or an outdated one lies squarely in the hands of the players. Some players who we interviewed said that, the helmets they would prefer to wear look better on TV. Keith Rivers, the Giants Linebacker who is a six year professional said that most players chose a certain type of helmet just because it looked good. They rarely considered the padding or face masks. These are Classic models that are great looking. He proceeds to say that the new modern helmets like Schutt DNA, are a complete turn off to veteran players however much there has been repeated advertisement on their safety (Battista J 2012).

Other veteran players said that they are not willing to change the helmet they have been wearing since college since they are a good luck charm. Even though what they are currently using may be outdated, they are more comfortable with the old fashioned ones. Tony, Boselli, who is an offensive lineman who has several years of playing in the National Football League since 1995, said by that time they used what the team was providing. If he team provided, old fashioned helmets, then they had no choice than to put them on. He never at one point thought about asking for an alternative (New York Times 2018). Another veteran player by the name David Baas who is currently in his 8th NFL season commented that veterans are most likely to be very hesitant in adapting to new equipment. The reason behind this is the fact that most of them are already used to a certain type of helmet for years and they are comfortable. It is simple not in their radar to adapt with current technological advances. All they care about is comfort and winning the game.

There was a standoff between Oakland’s Raiders Receiver Antonio Brown who was very hesitant that he should be allowed to put on his favorite old time helmet. The NFL players association had concluded that it no longer meets the much needed safety measures and standards. This was the Schutt Air Advantage that had been considered outdated. The reason For Brown Clinging on to his favorite helmet clearly depicts the emotional attachment that players have to their helmets (New York Times 2018). One of the new helmets called the Light Helmets is almost half the weight of other old helmets that are a bit heavier. Point to note is that all the players that used this light helmets reported a tremendous increase in visibility. Colt Jeff who is former NFL player confirmed the ease at which he could turn his head which in correspondent provided him with a wider vision on the field of play. Moreover, the lighter designs enable the players to keep their heads high up within the game while maintaining proper tackles and improved visibility.

In my opinion, the new helmets appear to be comfortable as compared to the old ones. This is due to the extra padding that is fitted within the helmets and cushions the entire head. Further research has proved that head concussion have decreased by 70% ever since the introduction of these new helmets. We can therefore conclude that the new helmets are safer and more comfortable. The new helmets have over 300 sizing options with no air bladders, thus enhanced comfortability. The manufacturers have provided for, the option of helmet customization so that the players can get the ideal size without too much padding on the top part of the helmet. Additionally, the new designs are adjustable and easily fitted. Meaning that in the event that a player received a new haircut, he can adjust the helmet to suit his new look. On the contrary, we can say comfortability is solely dependent on the player. Some players have intentionally hesitated to adapt to the new ones because they find the old ones more comfortable. Thus the level of discomfort or comfort is solely at the pleasure of the player.

How Do the Football Helmets Work?

The protective helmets reduce the potential of chronic TBI during impact from an opponent player by reducing the acceleration from their heads upon impact. This in turn decreases brain skull collision and the abrupt deceleration induced axonal injury that may occur in the process. The inserted energy cushioning material placed in the helmet provides this safety through compressions to contain the force on impact and then immediately it restores its original shape and size (Bishop PJ Norman 2013). This systemic compression and decompression delays the duration in which the collision takes place while decreasing the total momentum released to the head. The basic energy absorbing items in the helmet is the compression shock and the shock bonnets and the auxiliary ones are the additional padding that is put. On the outer parts are sensors and shock data detectors monitors. They monitor the impact the player is receiving such as the direction and force. For example, if the force is projected to be over 100Gs, the sensors will signal for the possibility of a concussion. This data is recorded by these monitors and each player has been approximated to be receiving over 1000 possible concussion blows per game.

List of Safest Football Helmets

Here is a list of helmets that have been proven to be the safest while playing football. These are, Riddle youth Speed flex, Riddle speed, Schutt vengeance VTD, Light youth football helmet, Xenith x2e youth helmet, Schutt 201 youth R3, Schutt youth DNA pro and Schutt youth Vengeance A3. They are considered the safest because of their safety standards which has been verified by the national Operating Committee On standards for athletic equipment and they have a visible sticker on them. Secondly, they are prescribed by doctors to patients who have already had previous concussions. Thirdly, they are adjustable thus can change in size and dimensions to suit the comfort of the player. Fourth is the presence of a fit and chinstrap that ensures a perfect fit.

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