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. 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(Rowson & Duma, 2011). 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 (Rowson & Duma, 2011). From those tests 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 great tool 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 (Rowson & Duma, 2011). 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.
This past season the NFL had launched an Injury Reduction Plan with the plan to reduce the incidence of concussions in the 2018 season. The NFL had a 16 percent increase in concussions during the 2017 season. NFL Chief Medical Officer Dr. Allen Sills set 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 scienctists for the NFL brainstormed a three-part approach to reduce injury. The NFL also created an educational video for players, coaches and club personnel about the concussion reduction strategy (Sills, 2018).
The NFL made 3 categories that will experience change and improvement they are the following:
1. Preseason Practices
Sills wants to start the concussion reduction to start in the preseason practices. He wants practices to be supervised and drills to be watched incase anything brings risk of concussion. His main goal is to drive the number 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 (Sills, 2018)
- Better Performing Helmets
The second part of the Injury Reduction Plan is a goal to get players out of old-age helmets and to get them into modern day performing helmets in an effort to decrease the risk of injury. Each year, helmets go into laboratory testing by biomechanical engineers in-partner with the NFL and the NFL Players Association. Their goals are to determine which helmets are more durable and reduce head impact and injury. The results of the laboratory tests are printed onto posters and shared with NFL players, club equipment managers, along with club medical, training and coaching staffs. 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 (Sills, 2018). No helmet can completely protect a player from serious head injuries a player might sustain while playing football.
3. Rules Changes
The third component of the Injury Reduction Plan is the enforcement of rules changes which is made to reduce big hits that can potentially lead to inury. The “Use of the Helmet” rule has been strictly enforced this season. Any player to make helmet-to-helmet contact will result in an automatic flag and first down, possibly a fine depending on how dangerous the hit was. The NFL is leveraging data in an effort to improve player safety and evolve the game.
Rowson, S., & Duma, S. M. (2011, May 07). Development of the STAR Evaluation System for Football Helmets: Integrating Player Head Impact Exposure and Risk of Concussion. Retrieved from https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10439-011-0322-5
The 2018 Injury Reduction Plan: Initiatives to Advance Player Health and Safety. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.playsmartplaysafe.com/newsroom/videos/2018-injury-reduction-plan-initiatives-advance-player-health-safety/