PADDED HEADGEAR IN CONTACT FOOTBALL – INERTIA OR MOMENTUM?

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Abstract

Background

Regarding padded headgear worn in contact football (excluding American football), little has changed in terms of game laws, technical specifications or market supplied models over the last 15 years.

Objective

Assess the impact performance and potential for padded headgear to protect the head.

Design

Biomechanical. Impact energy attenuation drop tests with ISO “M” headform onto a rigid flat anvil and linear impactor tests on a Hybrid III head and neck.

Setting

Australian rules football, rugby union and rugby league.

Patients

None.

Interventions

Laboratory testing of eight padded headgear models – six commercial and two prototypes.

Main Outcome Measurements

The primary study outcome measures include peak headform linear (PLA) and peak angular (PAA) accelerations and the Head Injury Criterion (HIC).

Results

In centre-front 0.2 m drop tests, PLA values ranged from 367 to 592 g and HIC ranged from 780 to 2064 in commercial models. In contrast a prototype “Hexlid” model produced PLA of 53 g in the same tests and 172 in 0.3 m drop tests. In 4 m/s lateral linear impacts the bare headform PLA was 107 g and PAA 7.1 krad/s2. Commercial headgear PLA's ranged from 91 to 100 g and PAA 6.0 to 6.8 krad/s2 for the same tests. In contrast the “Hexlid” model produced PLA of 65 g and PAA of 4.8 krad/s2. PLA in 0.2 m drop tests on commercially available headgear ranged from 251 to 538 g compared to 64 to 483 g in eight models tested under equivalent conditions and available in the late 1990s.

Conclusions

There is no indication that the commercially available headgear would be effective in reducing concussion risk. The performance of commercially available headgear has not improved since the 1990s. Prototype headgear show how impact performance can be improved. The test methods provide the basis for technical specifications.

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