A new study raises serious concerns about how well hockey helmets protect
young players on the ice. While all helmets must satisfy minimum safety
requirements, they do not all provide the same level of impact protection.
The results are particularly concerning given that the sport has the highest
rate of concussions. Head injuries are particularly common in hockey because
players not only collide with one another, but also hit the sides of the rink.
Researchers at Virginia Tech University conducted laboratory impact tests
on 32 models of hockey helmets. The tests simulated the impact of a hockey
game, testing each helmet in four directions at three energy levels twice.
The researchers used the data to create a five-star rating system for hockey
helmet safety that can help predict the likelihood that the wearer will
suffer a concussion. The top-rated helmet only earned three stars. Six
helmets earned two stars, 16 helmets received one star, and nine got none.
Price appeared to have no effect on how the helmets performed. Many models
priced at $100 ranked higher than helmets at double or triple the price.
“Our focus is to improve the safety of the sport, and we have spent
a great deal of time developing the methods and relaying these to the
manufacturers so that they can optimize their designs,” lead researcher
Stefan Duma, head of the university’s Department of Biomedical Engineering
and Mechanics, stated. “Our hope is to see new helmets come into
the market with improved performance.”
Virginia Tech previously created a system for football helmets, which is
credited with changing the way they are designed. According to the researchers,
all five of the football helmet models introduced in 2014 earned top ratings.
As San Diego product liability lawyers, we are hopeful that the hockey
helmet rating system prompts manufacturers to make similar changes. In
the meantime, parents can find the full ranking on the
Virginia Tech Hockey Helmet Ratings website.