I've read many of the medical studies on this type of head injury and long term effects and they are very interesting. As a former player and little league coach - we've had inflatable padding in helmets for a long time. NONE of my players had a head injury because I taught them how to hit, how to take a hit and most importantly, NOT to use the helmet/head as a weapon.
A helmet full of airbags has got to be set up for quick replacement of expended padding so I can get the player back in the game which means I have another pile of expensive kit to carry down the sidelines and tools to replace them.
What is needed at all levels of the sport is harsh/severe penalties for using the head/helmet that way. I can't stress this enough - eject the offending player some number of games or for the rest of the season. At the pro level, suspension plus 10% or 25% of their salary for that year. The penalty needs to fit the crime.
I had a similar thought - that these shocks are for play. But I also have a teenaged son and know that he is going to do dangerous things. He has already gotten 3 concussions during play.
Not only is there a question about delay but I also have the question as to how does an airbag help? If a certain amount of shock is going to make the brain hit the bone that is surrounding it, how is padding the outside of that same bone going to protect the brain. It is not going to stop the impact of the brain on the bone. I do not see how it will stop the multiple occurances of impact. I can see how if timed improperly, where it can do more damage than good.
I will commend the attempt to think about the problem, but from my point of view if you want to stop damage you have to stop the impact from transfering to the brain and not react to it afterwards.
Interesting response, jljarvis, and I think a very valid perspective. The technology can do more harm than good if not implemented properly and is it possible to do so? Very complex project indeed! And while I certainly agree with you that as the doctor says, "If it hurts, don't do it" human nature has proved that it will do otherwise regardless. Just like the multiple discussions we are having about distractions in vehicles. It is a proven fact that texting while driving is engaging in dangerous behavior because of the distraction to the driver - yet it is rampant. Rather than saying - stop texting - companies are looking at ways to make cars "smarter." I see a trend here that just won't go away because people kick up a huge fuss when their toys are threatened...
That said - I truly do hope this technology works and becomes cost effective because I certainly don't advocate not participating in contact sports if they can be made safer. While there are all kinds of reasons one can bring up against football and hockey, there are all kinds of reasons why they are a good thing too. I hope this helmet concept can be developed into a successful marketable product that can also be made affordable.
Great point about football being entertainment. The sport, like hockey, finds that spectators like more action, or rather big hits and violence, better than a regular game. So, it appears that the violence in the game is partially driven by rules designed to maximize revenues. Unfortunately, although I've read this in newspapers I haven't assembled the necessary backup, so this is hearsay as of now.
Also, the problem may be far more insidious than a big hit as brain injury may be a result of long term shock, much of it minor, starting from childhood. Repetitive Head Injury Syndrome mentions that this is not well known.
I was talking to a friend who is a big fan, and a season ticket holder to the Bears, and he mentioned that this long term minor shock issue has been discussed by ESPN commentators, which means that it is well known within the sport. This implies that while 80G shocks are the concern of this developer, the ultimate problem may be a long history of much more subtle shocks. Again, I have not researched this, so take this as hearsay.
Therefore, the real question may indeed be why do we support and promote entertainment that has a high probability of resulting in brain damage, even if more subtle than that that lead Dave Duerson to take his own life. Remediating trauma is a good thing, but not necessarily so that people can make a lot of money at the expense of others or even themselves.
It's probably viewed as sacrilege by some, but professional football is an entertainment industry. It contributes value to society... how?
So apart from the notion that we could live without subjecting players to those 80G shocks...and all that implies... let's consider the stimulus-response problem:
You don't know from what direction or when a shock load will occur, nor do you know its magnitude. Yet, you would presume to deliver a series of countervailing forces from up to 80 small airbags, to offset the attack vector?
With all due respect to mems sensors and uP code... there would seem to be a better than even chance that the airbag equipped helmet would deliver a series of lagging blows to the wearer, extending the initial trauma in the time domain, and scattering it spatially.
It might be that this could reduce the single vector shock materially, but produce an extended "rope-a-dope" trauma from various angles. But would this be progress?
At some point, I think we need to recognize that if hitting brick walls hurts, one should stop doing it. And if hitting brick walls is considered entertainment... asking why might be in order.
Beth, I think it's very necessity to cover the head while playing football and hockey. The chance for collision and traumas are very high in these types of games. Now in Cricket they are using helmets. I just wondered why such initiatives are not taken so far by International football and Olympic Associations for the saftey of players.
Charles, thanks for the vital info, even we are looking for a similar head protecting bag for our official football team. Last year during the state level competition, two of our employs get collide with opposite team members and get injured in head. So the protective air bags can be used to avoid such traumas. Hope it will be available in market very soon.
I should be interesting to see how this works. Some of the impact you see in the NFL seems so rough that even air bags in the helmet wouldn't be able to cut out all of the brain bumping. I guess if you could mitigate the impact even somewhat, it would help.
I agree, Beth. I can't imagine that any soft body part is capable of standing up to 100 G's without sustaining some damage. Most amazing to me was the revelation that the brain can snap back and forth as many as 11 times from one hit. It's no wonder that many of these athletes, after years of repeated hits, get punchy.
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