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Northport is the only other school with all five-star helmets. Typically, schools buy about 10 helmets per year, according to purchase orders obtained by Newsday. Helmets worn by high school players are the same makes and models as those worn in the NFL. But Dr. Virginia Tech tests helmets in a laboratory by dropping them times from predetermined heights to simulate the different forces of impacts that its research says a football player would expect to experience during a season.

A separate six-year study by researchers from eight universities, including Virginia Tech, tracked the force of impacts and concussions suffered by college football players from to wearing a one-star helmet and a four-star helmet. The researchers determined there was a 54 percent reduction in concussions among players in the four-star helmet compared with the one-star. At the end of the day, I ask people this simple question: Do you want to wear a helmet that lowers head acceleration or not?

Helmet-to-helmet collisions: Scientists model how vibrations from football hits wobble the brain

We tell you which ones lower head acceleration better than others, and you can pick. NFL players choose which helmet to wear.

Some schools said they will allow an athlete to purchase his own helmet if asked. Other schools do not allow it for liability reasons. NOCSAE, which oversees helmet use in football, recommends but does not require that helmets be reconditioned every year. Reconditioning is a process in which the padding in the helmets is cleaned and, if needed, replaced, and the helmets are recertified for use by NOCSAE standards. Helmets can be reconditioned only up to their original specifications, so a three-star helmet cannot be upgraded to a five-star, Duma said.


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The result of a nationwide push for better standards, the act mandates that any public school athlete suspected of suffering a concussion must be removed from play and cannot return until he or she has written authorization by a licensed physician. Sometimes there are no immediate symptoms.

Dawn Comstock, an epidemiology professor at the University of Colorado in Denver, has been tracking high school sports injuries, including concussions, on the national level since She said concussions are the most challenging injury to track. He sat out 21 days before he was cleared to return to play. One high school reported 11 concussions last season. But in seven of those the incident report notes that the student did not report any symptoms at the time of the injury.

Three days later complained of head injury. One high school player was unable to compete for 38 days. Teammates reported athlete appeared confused last 5 minutes of play. Student had no recall of game. A report says a player lost consciousness during a game for approximately seconds. A high school football player in a Seattle suburb died of an undisclosed injury on Monday, three days after getting hurt while making a tackle. He is the fourth high school football player to die this season.

A player in Louisiana suffered a neck injury, a player in New Jersey died of a lacerated spleen and a player in Oklahoma had a head injury, according to news reports. Examples Nassau provides are a doctor, physician assistant, a certified emergency medical technician EMT , a certified advanced medical technician AMT or an athletic trainer certified by the National Athletic Trainers Association. At football practices — or any other high school sport practices — there are no state requirements that an athletic trainer be present, Nelson said.

A study led by Dompier that was published in July in the Journal of the American Medical Association Pediatrics tracked 96 high schools during the and seasons and found an average of five reported concussions per team. Long Island schools averaged 3. Nationwide, 70 percent of public high schools employ an athletic trainer part-time or full-time, according to a study by University of Connecticut researchers published this year. For head protection to be most effective against the speeds and weights of players on a football field, these researchers say it has to block impulse. They're not the first to say this.

They've found medical studies from 70 years back that blame impulse for damage from football-style, quick impacts. Yet today, helmet makers and health researchers alike tend to rely on other factors. For example, new helmet designs are approved based solely on the peak force they can withstand. The reason is that force is only part of the story. Scientists and doctors don't fully understand how a blow to the head translates to brain injury, but the U-M researchers say impulse is a big factor. Arruda and her colleagues have demonstrated this.

They've taken one of the first close looks at the mechanical features of impacts and blasts and how helmets and other armor might be designed to do a better job protecting sensitive structures.

Hard Knocks: Helmets, concussion and Long Island high school football

Then they use a table-top collision simulator to test the different samples. They compared how much energy was transmitted through to the brain-type layer in their own helmet system and the status quo. They used a high-speed camera to help them observe how the brain model deformed in both systems. In their experiments, the current helmet model did little to block impulse.

The researchers could tell this by how much the speckled pattern on their brain layer distorted. The Mitigatium prototype, however, reduced impulse to just 20 percent of what got through to the brain model in the conventional helmet. Mitigatium reduced peak pressure to 30 percent. It lowered both by an order of magnitude, Arruda said.


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Here's how it works: It's made of three materials that amount to more than the sum of their parts. The first layer is similar to the hard polycarbonate that's the shell of present-day helmets.

The Globe and Mail

The second is a flexible plastic. Together these substances reflect most of the initial shock wave from a collision -- most of the initial force. They also do something else unique and important: They convert the frequency of that incoming pressure wave to a frequency that the next layer can, in essence, grab ahold of and dissipate by vibrating. This third "visco-elastic" layer has the consistency of dried tar. Late last year, the U-M team was one of five winners of the Head Health Challenge III, a competition to support the development of materials that better absorb or dissipate impact.

What's This All About?

Doctoral candidate Tanaz Rahimzadeh is also contributing to this project. The researchers also point out that their system is extremely flexible, in that different materials could be used to tune different incoming pressure waves. They envision their approach to have applications for the military and other protective gear, as well as for playground surfaces.

A paper on some of these findings, titled "Design of armor for protection against blast and impact," is published in the Journal of the Mechanics and Physics of Solids. Rahimzadeh is the first author. Materials provided by University of Michigan.