Auburn University and the Univeristy of Alabama are gearing up for one of the top college football rivalries in the U.S- the Iron Bowl. Both teams have claimed national championships, and even though Alabama ‘s Crimsion Tide is the easy favorite to win Iron Bowl 2015, fans know that anything can happen when these fierce rivals take the field. Competition aside, football itself has been under fire recently due to a high number of concussions.
Mechanical engineering professor, Dean Sicking of the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) is working to create a (literal) game changer with safer helmets. “Football helmets are designed to prevent skull fractures,” Sicking said, “That’s why the official testing standard, overseen by the National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment (NOCSAE), involves dropping a helmet onto a metal platform topped with a hard rubber pad…Football’s problem isn’t skull fractures, It’s concussions.”
Sicking has created an ingenious way to test the safety equipment; an 80-foot railed track sends two “dummy” football players hurtling towards each other in simulated tackle scenarios. According to Sicking, the best way to develop a safer helmet is to test the equipment that is currently used and find their shortcomings.
Sicking hopes to set an official standard that all helmets must meet. “That’s how we raised safety levels in the auto industry,” Sicking said. “Over a few years, the challenge standard becomes the new base standard, and quality continues to improve.”
Learn more about the testing and research by clicking here.
The need for higher quality safety equipment has been voiced from little league teams to the NFL. According to USA Today, over 200 lawsuits have been filed by over 5,000 retired NFL football players over concussion and other brain trauma related injuries including Lou Gehrig’s Disease and chronic traumatic encephalopathy, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and dementia. The lawsuits were consolidated by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. Federal courts ordered the NFL to pay over $900 million in damages.
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