Technology Arises (Rebuttal)
Technology is at a stage where it can resolve all problems. It has risen to be one of the most dependable sources in our present time. Technology has the power to even stop concussions occurring in our most dangerous sports, like football. Every year, thousands of football players suffer from mild concussions. Concussions occur when the brain moves and collides with the skull. In contrast to the publicly available data on the safety of automobiles, consumers have no analytical mechanism to evaluate the protective performance of football helmets. A new mechanism called the “STAR Evaluation system” was brainstormed and can be used to evaluate helmet performance by integrating player head impact exposure and risk of concussion. “Development of the STAR Evaluation System for Football Helmets: Integrating Player Head Impact Exposure and Risk of Concussion.” Written by Steven Rowson, explains that the Summation of Tests for the Analysis of Risk (STAR) equation relates on-field impact exposure to a series of 24 drop tests performed at four impact locations and six impact energy levels. Using 62,974 head acceleration data points collected from football players, the number of impacts experienced for one full season was translated to 24 drop test configurations. A new injury risk function was developed from 32 measured concussions and associated exposure data to assess risk of concussion for each impact. The data from all 24 drop tests was combined into one number using the STAR formula that incorporates the predicted exposure and injury risk for one player for one full season of practices and games. The new STAR evaluation equation provided consumers with a meaningful metric to assess the relative performance of football helmets. With that being said coaches must be very attentive to their players and the number of impact blows taken to the head because with this new technology in effect it will be their job to monitor. It is ultimately up to coaches to keep their players safe and to follow the guidelines of this new product. It was tested to its ability and the results speak for themselves.
Overall, impacts to the front of the helmet occurred most frequently, and were followed by impacts to the rear, top, and side of the helmet. Using these percentages, the number of impacts to each impact location for a single player participating in a complete season were computed based on the assumption that a total of 1,000 head impacts were experienced. This transformation gives that for a single season, a player will experience 347 impacts to the front of the helmet, 319 impacts to the rear of the helmet, 171 impacts to the top of the helmet, and 163 impacts to the sides of the helmet. Being that I played football my whole life I can standby these results. Throughout a full season a player goes through a significant amount of hits to the head whether it’s during practice or in a game, the numbers add up well.
Impact severity distributions in terms of peak resultant head acceleration were determined for each impact location. Each distribution was fit to a table and displayed the computed parameters for each impact location. The tables displayed impacts to the front of the helmet. The quality of fit was consistently good for all impact locations.
This past season the NFL had launched an Injury Reduction Plan with the aim to reduce the incidence of concussions in the upcoming 2018 season. Following a 16 percent increase in concussions during the 2017 season, NFL Chief Medical Officer Dr. Allen Sills issued a call-to-action to reduce concussions.
“We see our job in player health and safety to have the very best care for our patients as possible—in terms of prevention, in terms of treating and diagnosing injuries, and doing rehabilitation for those injuries—so we can keep our players as safe as possible,” said Dr. Sills.
NFL leaders, clubs and the wide variety of experts in medicine, engineering and science who form the NFL medical committees developed a three-pronged approach to drive behavioral changes. The NFL also created an educational video for players, coaches and club personnel about the concussion reduction strategy.
“We designed what we think are going to be steps that can immediately impact the number of concussions on our fields,” he said.
The NFL made 3 categories that will experience change and improvement they are preseason practices, better performing helmets, and rule changes.
1. Preseason Practices
“The first part of our concussion reduction [strategy],” said Dr. Sills, “is around preseason practices—so we want to work with our clubs to look at how they’re practicing, what types of drills are being done to see if we can drive that number [of concussions] down.”
The NFL is sharing information across the league to educate, stimulate change and enhance player safety—including information about the causes of concussion, the helmets players wear, and injury data analysis, such as preseason practice concussion data.
- Better Performing Helmets
The second part of the Injury Reduction Plan is a goal to get players out of lower-performing helmets and into better-performing helmets in an effort to decrease the risk of injury. Each year, helmets undergo laboratory testing by biomechanical engineers appointed by the NFL and the NFL Players Association to evaluate which helmets best reduce head impact severity. The results of the laboratory tests are displayed on a poster and shared with NFL players, club equipment managers, as well as club medical, training and coaching staffs to help inform equipment choices. In 2018, based on the results of this study and the opinions of the biomechanical experts involved, the NFL and NFLPA will prohibit 10 helmet models from being worn by NFL players. It is important to note that no helmet can completely protect against serious brain or neck injuries a player might sustain while playing football, and that the results of this testing should not be extrapolated to collegiate, high school, or youth football.
3. Rules Changes
The third component of the Injury Reduction Plan is the enforcement of rules changes aimed at eliminating potentially risky behavior that could lead to injuries. Through the latest changes including the “Use of the Helmet” rule and kickoff modifications, the NFL is leveraging data in an effort to improve player safety and evolve the game.