Purdue researchers develop helmet technology to better protect brain

Padding inside helmet could cut force to brain

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Purdue University researchers have achieved a breakthrough in football helmet technology that would massively decrease energy delivered to the brain during impacts.

Padding placed inside the helmet could cut g-force to the brain by 50 percent.

Researchers have developed a multi-scale, energy-absorbing material.

The complicated solution also happens to be an inexpensive fix, using materials that can be purchased from a hardware store.

“We are hoping that we can take the majority of the hits in high school football which are 60s and shift down to 20 g’s lower. That’s our main goal. It will definitely mean less damage to the brain,” said Dr. Eric Nauman, a biomechanical engineering professor.

Helmet manufacturers have not been enthusiastic about working with researchers to expedite improved padding.

Researchers want to get things rolling because more players are being impacted negatively.

“We are a little bit twiddling our thumbs while Rome is burning. We may be starting to see the early stages that in some subset of these players are going to lead to very serious emotional and physical problems,” said Dr. Tom Talavage, a biomechanical engineering professor.

It will cost about $35,000 to develop the pad material and a prototype helmet.

Dr. Nauman said the NCAA and NFL must take the lead and require innovation and improvements.

He said if helmet manufacturers don’t step up, his group could start their own company.

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