Leather Helmets Original NFL helmet was made of soft leather Used from 1920-1938 Very basic helmet with almost no protection from injury Lining absorbed water & perspiration Basically protected players from hair pulling & losing an ear The use of helmets at this time was optional Hard leather helmets adopted in 1939 Chin strap incorporated in 1940 1943 – All NFL players required to wear helmets This style provided only slightly better protection from head injury vs. the soft leather style Plastic Helmets Officially adopted in 1949 by NFL
Developed & Patented in 1939 by John T. Riddell Company First helmet with head padding inside Player collisions intensified due to the thought of a “safer” helmet, but changes in game play resulted in new and worsened injuries Single face bar added 1955; Double face bar added 1960; by 1962, every NFL player wore a face mask Lack of helmet stability led to helmets flying off upon collision and caused neck injuries to significantly increase By the mid 1960’s these helmets were determined unsafe by the National Operating
Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment 1970’s Energy Absorbing Helmets In 1971, Riddell added air pockets inside helmets to soften impact In 1975, full face masks were officially adopted by the NFL With head & neck injuries continuing to increase, plastic & energy absorbing helmets were phased out by the mid 1980’s due to lack of head & neck stability The Modern Era (Mid 1980’s to Present) Molded Polycarbonate Helmet 984 brought the first of many helmets with advanced safety features Protective visors were first added in 1984 In 1986, every NFL player was issued a polycarbonate helmet which was made from a much more durable material than any previous helmet Polycarbonate helmets along with new inner padding allowed for better shock absorption and increased head & neck stabilization Other sports equipment manufacturers, such as Wilson & Spaulding entered the NFL helmet array.
These companies offered players endorsement deals to wear & promote their helmets In 1997, 49ers QB Steve Young suffered 3 concussions in 10 months & switched to Riddell’snewest helmet that included pads at the temples & jawbone By 2000, 8 out of 10 players were wearing the new Riddell helmet Riddell’s Revolution Helmet First distributed to NFL players in 2002 The Revolution line was designed specifically to provide optimal protection against concussions & other serious head & neck injuries 83% of current players use these helmets
The most recent model, Revolution Speed, comes equipped with Riddell’s HITS Technology which consists of a sensor in the helmet that relays data regarding the severity of each hit to a computer system Revolution helmets have been proven to reduce risk of head injury Today, 5. 4% of players wearing Revolution helmets suffer concussions vs. 7. 6% of players wearing other helmets Over the evolution span of the NFL Helmet many safety precautions have been taken & much research has been conducted to get helmets to the level of protection that they provide today.
While the risk of head & neck injuries has decreased significantly over the past few decades, many players still suffer from numerous short & long term injuries. The Consequences of Head Injuries Short Term Effects Concussions Signs of a mild concussion are: (1) Confusion, disorientation, & memory loss Athletes who sustain a concussion are at greater risk for a 2nd concussion that can include: Loss of consciousness, amnesia, and increased confusion
If a 2nd concussion occurs during a time of recovery, the player risks a longer recovery period, potentially more symptoms, increases in symptom severity, and possibly second-impact syndrome Post-Concussion Syndrome (PCS) can also result from prolonged concussion symptoms and can have an effect on the player for weeks, months, or even years after the injury (2) In addition, the player can experience a variety of psychological symptoms that effect their daily functions Long Term Effects
Researchers found that athletes with 3 or more concussions were 9 times more likely to suffer severe concussion symptoms than players with no prior history of concussions Long term effects of concussion include: Depression disorders, problems with anxiety, difficulty in social situations, and physical disturbances.
Recent research has also linked sports concussions with Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), a disorder that results from repeated concussions CTE is typically identified after death and has been determined to be the cause of death for countless numbers of athletes under the age of 50 By discussing my 2 main topics: . The History of the NFL Helmet The Consequences of Head Injuries I have hopefully helped you to better understand the advancements that the NFL has made to ensure player helmet safety. * Conclusion * In conclusion, since the NFL was founded in 1920, player helmet safety has significantly increased, but researchers are still far from finished when it comes to making the NFL players as safe as possible on the field.