Modern football helmets no safer than vintage leather helmets: study

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Chicago – Modern football helmets are no more effective at protecting players than leather helmets used in the 1900s, according to a study published Nov. 4 in the Journal of Neurosurgery: Spine.

Researchers used impact tests to simulate collisions between two 1900s-style leather helmets and 11 modern polycarbonate helmets. They factored in the collision types most common at the collegiate and high school levels for football players, some of which may be lower-impact but occur repeatedly during this level of play.

Results indicated that leather helmets were just as effective or better at mitigating impact force for many of the collision types and angles. This led researchers to conclude that modern helmets should incorporate low-energy impact protection in addition to high-energy impact protection.

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