Football Helmets

The National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment (NOCSAE) in January 2017 released the following updated guidelines for football helmets:

  • Know Your Helmet: No helmet is concussion-proof; Proper fit is critical; Do not alter change
  • Maintain Your Helmet: Recondition and recertify helmets every 1-2 years; Replace after 10 years
  • Prioritize Safe Play: Use proper blocking and tackling techniques; Know the signs and symptoms of a concussion – and report them; Remember – if in doubt, sit it out

The new football helmet performance standard incorporates rotational accelerations in the pass/fail specifications. Manufacturers will be required to meet the new football helmet performance standard beginning in June 2018.

“This is an extraordinary step forward in addressing concussion risks,” said Dr. Robert Cantu, NOCSAE Vice President, Boston University School of Medicine Clinical Professor, Department of Neurosurgery and Co-Founder and Medical Director of the Concussion Legacy Foundation. “Since rotational accelerations are thought by the majority of neuroscientists to be more injurious to the brain than linear accelerations, it’s a significant advancement for NOCSAE to move to final status a rotational acceleration threshold in addition to their already existent linear acceleration threshold in their football helmet standard.”

Don’t play through the pain – The most important thing is to take the athlete off the field immediately. A 2013 report from the Institute of Medicine warned against a culture of “playing through the pain,” and pointed out that injuring the brain again before it has had time to rest and heal can be devastating or even fatal.