Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Study: Most NHL and Youth Hockey Helmets are Unsafe

A study shows that most helmets used in the NHL and by youth hockey players are not safe.

A new independent study has found that hockey players, ranging across the National Hockey League, or NHL to the youth leagues, are at the risk of concussion from hits during matches due to a lack of protection thanks to poor quality helmets.
The study, conducted by Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, tested 32 helmets available in the market on their ability to protect the players from concussion. The study aimed to rank the helmets on a scale of five stars. It was not funded by the NHL, cost $500,000 and took three years to complete.
According to the study, published publicly last Monday, none of the helmets got a 4-star or 5-star rating. Only one helmet, made by Warrior Sports, got a 3-star rating. Nine helmets failed to get even a single star, and the rest got a 1-star or 2-star rating.
"We don't think anybody should be playing in these helmets," Stefan Duma, the head of Virgina Tech’s biomedical engineering department said, as reported by ESPN.
Players wearing the poorly rated could be at risk of anywhere between six to eight concussions per season, the report claimed. The two most expensive helmets available in the market, made by Bauer and CCM, received just one star.
The report raises questions over the testing methods used to certify hockey helmets, as it claims all 32 helmets were approved by the Hockey Equipment Certification Council. The report raises questions as to whether more can be done to improve the safety standards of a sport played by millions in the United States.  
Steps are, however, being taken to reduce the risk of concussions. These include coaching players to avoid head-on clashes, safer techniques to tackle, avoiding fights, among others. 
"There will never be a perfect helmet that will prevent all concussions. It's about risk reduction. The reality is when you look at the bottom and the top helmets, you're talking about massive reductions in acceleration, over half. I think almost all biomechanical engineers would agree that that's a significant difference," Duma said.
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