Curbing concussions

By: UW (University of Washington)

I see kids with concussion from a variety of sports, and boys football is one of the most common reasons kids get concussions. And I've had the experience of having to retire kids from their sport. Our goal with this helmet is to reduce concussions by fifty percent. This is an example of a perfect collaboration between neurosurgery and chemical engineering to solve a public health problem. The basic name of the game here's to absorb impact and reduce the acceleration of the player's head.

How you do that is by creating an impact-absorbing structure and then testing it. Ultimately, the type of test we're doing is looking at fracture, durability, impact absorption. So you're trying to reduce the peak accelerations, which are linked to the risk of concussion. There's a lot of aspects of this helmet which are beyond just pure engineering. It's a collaborative effort between designers, engineers, soft good manufacturers, neurosurgeons — a lot of pieces of the puzzle need to come together to make something that protects people. One of the values of being at a place like University of Washington is the type research that's going on here. At a research-one university as a student, you get access to being involved in projects that are timely like helping reduce the risk of concussion.

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