Establishing Test Parameters for Youth American Football Helmets Informed by Injury Surveillance

Principal Investigator: T.B. Hoshizaki

Institute: University of Ottawa

Title: Establishing Test Parameters for Youth American Football Helmets Informed by Injury Surveillance

Abstract: Attempts to establish test parameters and certification criteria to define the protective requirements for youth football helmets have been challenging because the majority of concussion injury data involve adults. Injury indices were not developed to predict the risk of concussion for youth football players. While the most common injury mechanism causing youth concussions involve player collisions, followed by falls to the ground. Collision events can be further categorized into helmet to helmet impacts, shoulder to helmet impacts, knee to the head impacts, and hand/ forearm impacts to the head, each producing distinct acceleration curves that are unique to the event. In addition, levels of impact velocity, striking mass, impact compliance and direction of impact will be different between youth and adult players. In order to ensure youth football players are provided with appropriate levels of head protection mandated by NOCSAE, a biomechanical analysis of the head impact events leading to concussion is necessary to understand the mechanics of youth head trauma to inform these efforts.

Study Design: Game video of youth (5 – 14 yrs.) football games will be analyzed for relevant event characteristics associated with concussive and non-concussive events and reconstructed in a controlled laboratory setting. Head impact events will be simulated using a youth finite element model, developed as part of this research initiative, to obtain levels of strain. Video analysis will identify the most common injury mechanisms, levels of impact parameters (velocity, mass, location, compliance) relevant to causing injury risk, and head dynamic and brain tissue response associated with injury, necessary to inform a helmet standard.

Materials and Methods: 60 game videos of youth football will be analyzed and reconstructed using collision and fall test setups with appropriately sized NOCSAE headforms1 and non-biased neck forms. A youth specific FEA model with corresponding FEA adult model software sized for youth will provide MPS values.

Main Outcome Measures:  Levels of impact velocity, mass, location and event type will inform the relevant conditions for a youth helmet test protocol.  Concussive risk curves using peak linear acceleration, SI, change in angular velocity, peak angular acceleration and maximum principal strain for youth football will guide decisions on pass/fail criteria for youth football helmet certification.