Evaluation of the Biomechanical Performance of Youth Football Helmets
Sproule, David William
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Youth and varsity football helmets are currently designed similarly and tested to the same impact standards from the National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment (NOCSAE). Youth players have differences in anthropometry, physiology, impact exposure, and potentially injury tolerance that should be considered in future youth-specific helmets and standards. This thesis begins by investigating the current standards and relating them to on-field data. The standard drop tests represented the most severe on-field impacts, and the performance of the youth and varsity helmet did not differ. There likely is not a need for a youth-specific standard as the current standard has essentially eliminated the catastrophic head injuries it tests for. As more is known about concussion, standards specific to the youth population can be developed. The second portion of this thesis compares the impact performance between 8 matched youth and varsity helmet models, using linear acceleration, rotational acceleration, and concussion correlate. It was found that helmet performance did not differ between the youth and varsity helmets, likely attributed to testing to the same standard. The final portion of this feature is aimed at advancing STAR for youth and varsity football helmets by including linear and rotational head kinematics. For varsity helmets, an adult surrogate is used for impact tests which are weighted based on on-field data collected from collegiate football players. For youth helmets, a youth surrogate is used and tests are weighted based on data collected from youth players.
- Masters Theses