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NFL Adopts New Helmets
July 26 2002
By Bryan Hersh of 49ers Paradise
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49ers Old Helmet
The NFL this season has adopted a new helmet. Riddell continues to be the supplier of all 32-teams. The ‘Revolution’ helmet as it is named by Riddell, is the result of four years of extensive research on head trauma injuries. Riddell teamed with Biokinetics & Associates to rearch Mild Traumatic Brain Injury (MTBI), more commonly known as concussions. The Canadian research firm analyzed Pro, College, and High School football footage of collisions to better determine why concussions occur.

The Revolution
Research showed that seven out of ten MTBI injuries were the result of blows to the head from the side, rather than the top or front - the worst collision being a helmet to helmet connection around the ear. Riddell used this information to develop its ‘Revolution’ helmet.

There are three key changes made to the helmets that should significantly reduce the amount of head trauma injuries this season. The new helmets will feature a ‘Z-Pad’ on the sides to helmet to disperse the impact of blows. The helmet shell will also be moved farther from the players head, giving the padding more time, and room to absorb the energy of the impact. The shell has also been reshaped, to follow the curves of the head right through to the jaw line to provide more stable protection. It has also been designed to keep the heads center of gravity consistent.

Better Inner Padding
Further improvements include a better chinstrap hook up, that will help keep the helmet in the correct place, and a stronger notch to keep the helmet from rolling off the players head. Ventilation, has been improved to allow air to flow into the helmet to help cool the players head. The ear padding also no longer gets in the way when putting on, and taking off the helmet. Riddell has also decreased the weight of the helmet.

All of these changes were implemented to help minimize MTBI’s at all levels of footballs. These dangerous head injuries lead to the retirements of such NFL players and Steve Young, and Troy Aikamn. Approximately 100 000 football related concussions are recorded per annum in the United States.

The danger of the concussions is that there diagnosis is not regulated. MTBI’s of the mild sort may not even be picked up from a player, who may be experiencing disorientation, confusion, dizziness, amnesia, poor coordination or worse, brain swelling or interference with the brains electrical activity. In such instances, the player may even go back into a football game.

Extended Jaw Line
Chin Strap
Strong Notch
There are three classifications of concussions; the mild as mentioned in the previous paragraph can resolved themselves in less than fifteen minutes. Players often return to action after being re-evaluated, but when there is a known history of concussions, players usually don’t. Grade two, or moderate concussions have similar symptoms but to a greater degree. In such cases memory loss is if often prevalent for up to a few hours. A Grade three severs concussion results in unconsciousness and hospitalization.

The long term effects of concussions are still not completely clear. However, it is known that with each concussion a person has, the likelihood they will have another increases. That second impact concussions (one directly following another) are extremely dangerous and can result in death. Losing brain functions and the ability to speak are often related to MTBI’s.

Riddell has made it their mandate to help prevent concussions. There new revolution helmet are designed to specifically minimize the impact of blows the head. The helmet is the first significant progression in head protection in the last twenty-five years. The NFL is very excited to adopt the new helmet, but players are not forced to wear them, rather they are given the choice. It’s hard to believe any player would pass on the Revolution for the ‘Old Faithful’. The Revolution was first worn in Super Bowl XXXVI when Rams fullback James Hodgins had the opportunity to try it out.

For more information regarding the new helmets check out and for information regarding concussions, visit: Brain Injury Association at or the American Academy of Neurology at .

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