Virginia Tech study shows improved safety for football helmets - WSLS 10 NBC in Roanoke/Lynchburg Va

Virginia Tech study shows improved safety for football helmets

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New research done at Virginia Tech shows the makers of football helmets are answering the call for safer helmets and it could mean you even pay less for more protection.

Virginia Tech Biomedical Engineering Professor Dr. Stefan Duma introduced the helmet rating system in 2011. 10,000 helmet tests are done in Tech's lab. Each helmet goes through 120 impact tests, analyzed using the STAR Evaluation System, to measure its ability to reduce concussion risk.

This latest research on helmets introduced this spring shows all five earned the five-star mark. It's the highest rating awarded by the Virginia Tech Helmet Ratings and a big improvement from what was offered three years ago. "We went from one five-star helmet to now there's almost eight different five-star rated helmets so as a consumer, you can pick whatever manufacturer you like or style you like," said Dr. Stefan Duma, department head of Virginia Tech Biomedical Engineering. ""And you're going to get the best protection."

Duma explains that an increase in five-star rated helmets can translate to more options for shoppers when it comes to choices and cost. "The first year (of the study) when there was one five-star rated helmet, that company can charge a premium because they're the best in the game." Now with more five-star rated helmets, there is pressure to bring the price down, he said.

For a complete listing of the ratings of the helmets manufactured by Schutt Sports and Xentih LLC, each with two new products, and Rawlings Sporting Goods Co., with one helmet, check the publicly available helmet ratings website.  The new helmets are Schutt's Vengeance VTD and AiR XP Pro VTD, Rawlings' Tachyon; and Xenith's EPIC and X2E, Virginia Tech says.

Duma says he will continue to update the Virginia Tech helmet ratings at the request of manufacturers as new helmets are sold. To date, there are nine helmets that have been designated with the best available rating since the system was developed. "It's exciting for the consumer because for the first time, every major manufacturer has a five-star rated helmet," Duma said.

Duma will expand his research in the fall to include hockey helmets using newly developed testing methods.

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