New Virginia Tech findings could help young football players avoid concussions

Seven helmets earned highest rating

By Heather Butterworth - Digital Content Producer, Jessica Jewell - Weekend Anchor / Reporter

BLACKSBURG, Va. - Virginia Tech researchers have released new findings that could keep kids safer on the football field. 

Based on their studies of head impacts, the Virginia Tech Helmet Lab has issued new safety ratings for youth football helmets.

Seven models earned the highest rating of five stars, and the rest earned three or four. The ones with five-star ratings ranged in price from $110 to $570. 

Each helmet went through 48 tests on dummies, covering four impact locations and three speeds. The dummy's neck was modeled after an average 10- to 12-year-old boy's. During each impact, sensors in the headform measured its linear and rotational acceleration. 

“Kids aren’t just scaled-down adults,” said Steve Rowson, an associate professor of biomedical engineering and mechanics and the Virginia Tech Helmet Lab’s director. “Their heads are larger relative to their necks; their necks are weaker, and their brains are still developing.” 

That changes the way a player’s head and brain will respond to an impact and affects the risk of sustaining a concussion or other head injury. 

"There's never really been information out there to suggest what people should use so you know people bought what they liked and this is going to be part of that decision now," Rowson said. 

Lower-rated helmets tended to have front pads that were too stiff. 

You can check the full list of youth football helmet ratings here.

Copyright 2019 by WSLS 10 - All rights reserved.