NFL offering new helmets for upcoming season

Published: Apr. 21, 2023 at 4:26 PM EDT
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ASHLAND, Ky (WSAZ) - A recent announcement from the NFL says the organization will be offering new quarterback helmets this upcoming season.

They’re designed to offer better protection when a quarterback’s head hits the ground.

“This helmet is one more designed for blunt force and hits to the ground, which is the type of injury a quarterback usually sees,” King’s Daughters sports medicine Dr. Andy Gilleland. He has been following the progress of the VICIS Zero2 Matrix QB helmet.

Engineers say this helmet did 7% better at reducing impact severity compared with helmets last season.

“The helmet technology is that if you build in crush zones or shock absorbency zones in the helmet, the forces are going to go through those parts of the helmet and it’s theoretically going to decrease the velocity to the brain,” Gilleland said.

Gilleland says many of Marshall’s players have opted for this helmet already, and several high schools in the region have been able to implement them in their programs as well.

“To the creator’s credit, they’ve found different ways to manufacture that helmet to a more palatable price point,” he said.

With their players’ health and safety in mind, many coaches have come to Gilleland to ask him if these helmets are the difference maker, and if these helmets prevent concussions. Gilleland says, his answer may surprise some.

“Everybody thinks these helmets or this protective equipment are the best strategy to prevent concussions, and it’s actually an unfair inference,” he said. “The best way to prevent concussions is actually public education.”

Dr. Gilleland says to think of your brain like a golf ball in a mason jar. With no protection, the ball bounces around the walls of the jar.

In a jar with a golf ball surrounded with cotton balls, like the padding in a helmet, the ball rattles less, but it still rattles.

“When you have a concussion, that’s what’s happening,” said Gilleland. “Your brain is sitting in this fluid and then it bounces up against your skull.”

Gilleland says he does advocate for this new style of helmet because it technically is an extra layer of protection. However, he says you should not depend on helmets alone.

“If you take mouth pieces on their own, they’re not proven to prevent anything. If you take helmets on their own, they’re not proven to prevent anything,” he said. “If you take neck strength and conditioning on its own, that’s not proven to prevent anything, but if you put all of those things together, it just makes sense from a logical standpoint. They’re doing something to help.”

Gilleland hopes athletes and trainers will prioritize training during practice to learn instincts to protect themselves safely. The helmets are just an extra layer of protection.

If you are looking for a new helmet for the upcoming season, experts say to look for the star rating. Doctors recommend helmets with four or five stars.

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