New study says leather helmets as effective as modern materials - KAIT-Jonesboro, AR-News, weather, sports

New study says leather helmets as effective as modern materials

In many cases, newer is often better. But that may not be so when it comes to football helmets and concussions.

A new study shows that old-fashioned leather football helmets are often just as good as modern-day helmets when it comes to protecting players from common hits.

Cleveland Clinic's Dr. Adam Bartsch led the research and says the results raise a red flag.

"Knowing that a leather helmet and a modern helmet are sometimes comparable in those hits, that's concerning for long-term impact for dosage accumulation," says Dr. Bartsch. "So many years of hits over a career, a season, might cause long-term damage."

Researchers put leather helmets and modern-day helmets to the test. Using crash test dummies, they simulated collisions at speeds comparable to most on-field hits at the collegiate and high school levels. Results show that leather helmets may offer similar or better protection against head injuries when compared to modern-day helmets.

Dr. Bartsch doesn't think players should go back to wearing leather helmets, but says current helmet design and safety standards are based on preventing skull fracture, not concussion, and need updating.

"This is such an interesting finding that there actually may be a reason to examine helmet designs other than the current hard shell with a face mask and really stiff interior padding, and also to examine how we're testing these helmets," he says.

Up to 40 percent of football players experience a concussion each year. Concussions are the leading cause of brain damage in sports. Complete results can be found in the Journal of Neurosurgeon.

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