Research Initiatives to Inform the Development of a Youth Football Helmet Standard

Principal Investigator: Steven Rowson, PhD, Assistant Professor

Institute: Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

Title: Research Initiatives to Inform the Development of a Youth Football Helmet Standard

Abstract: The overall goal of the proposed work is to support and inform NOCSAE on the development of a youth football standard using data collected directly from youth football players. A large scale existing and ongoing youth football study at Virginia Tech will be leveraged to inform the following knowledge gaps identified during the June Scientific Advisory Committee meeting:

  1. The biomechanics of concussion are youth populations is currently
  2. The head impact conditions in youth football are not currently well
  3. How the pneumatic ram test method relates to real-world head impacts in youth

Aims: The proposed research aims to inform the development of a youth football helmet standard by quantifying the biomechanics of concussion in youth football players, matching on-field impact velocities with resulting head accelerations, and relating on-field measures to the proposed pneumatic ram test method.

Study Design: Youth football teams currently being studied at Virginia Tech and already equipped with helmet-mounted accelerometer arrays will be followed for this study.

Materials and Methods: Teams will be provided with an athletic trainer to increase injury diagnosis and pairing of biomechanical data with concussion. A novel multi-camera array will be used to quantify impact velocities for youth players during games and practices. These data will be paired with head acceleration data from the helmet-mounted accelerometer arrays. On-field measurements will be compared to the test conditions and resulting head kinematics associated with the pneumatic ram test method.

Main Outcome Measures: Linear and rotational head acceleration in youth football games and practices paired with concussion diagnosis, impact velocities associated with head impact in youth football, and biofidelity assessment of pneumatic ram test method.

Significance: Together, completion of these tasks will inform the current knowledge gaps preventing the proposed youth football helmet standard from advancing. With these data, it is anticipated that a youth football helmet standard can be finalized.