Mounting evidence suggests that concussions in football are caused by the sudden rotation of the skull. David Camarillo’s lab at Stanford has evidence that suggests current football helmet tests don’t account for these movements.
When modern football helmets were introduced, they all but eliminated traumatic skull fractures caused by blunt force impacts. Mounting evidence, however, suggests that concussions are caused by a different type of head motion, namely brain and skull rotation.
Now, a group of Stanford engineers has produced a collection of results that suggest that current helmet-testing equipment and techniques are not optimized for evaluating these additional injury-causing elements.
The ideal way to test any protective gear is to gain a sense of what causes the trauma, set up a system that replicates the way the trauma occurs, and then evaluate the gear against the injury-causing criteria. For the past several years, David Camarillo, an assistant professor of bioengineering and, by courtesy, of mechanical engineering at Stanford, and his students have been collecting and analyzing data in hopes of identifying the signature skull motions that cause concussions.