The brilliant minds at Virginia Tech have decided that life-long debilitating brain injury is a bad thing and that helmets should be tested to see how well they prevent such injuries. Amazing that it took this long for someone to think to test something meant to keep people alive and well, but better late than never I guess.
In May, researchers at Virginia Tech released the results of a study conducted to rate the protective capabilities of many different helmets available on the market. Based on scientific testing, they devised a ranking system from “NR” (not recommended) to “5-star” (top). These results have been peer-reviewed and accepted for publication by the Annals of Biomedical Engineering, which basically means that they know what they are talking about.
The testing revealed only one 5-star helmet and five received the 4-star rating. If you want to read more about the ratings system and testing procedures then click here [link].
The flip side is that some helmets were ranked poorly, with several popular models ranked low. The Adams A2000 Pro Elite received a NR rank, and the Riddell VSR 4 model was given only 1-star. The disturbing part about this is that the VSR 4 has been Riddell’s best selling helmet for years, it is the most popular helmet in the NFL and is also widely used in NCAA football programs. Shortly after the study was published, Riddell advised against using the VSR 4 model, and was subsequently made unavailable for purchase. Virginia Tech has said that it will remove all VSR 4 helmets for the 2011 season, and I hope all programs follow suit. Replacing the helmets will be costly, but that pales in comparison to the risk of brain injury–injuries that the better-ranked helmets help reduce.
So, this turned out a little more informative and a little less entertaining than originally meant. I promise all future articles will be less professional and silliness will reign.