Skip to content

Virginia Tech helmet study could ‘hit hockey like a ton of bricks’

Jul 23, 2014, 10:00 PM EDT

Big Ten Men's Ice Hockey Championship - Semifinals Getty Images

Whether it’s actually true that there were fewer concussions in the 2013-14 season or not, head injuries remain a significant problem in the NHL and in the sport overall. The New York Times reports that Virginia Tech researchers are tackling at least one facet of the issue: the helmets that protect those vulnerable heads.

Dr. Stefan M. Duma and Dr. Steven Rowson are pivoting their STAR system from studies that began with Virginia Tech’s football team in 2011 and applying those standards to hockey helmets.

“After football, hockey is the sport that produces the highest rate of concussion,” Dr. Duma said. “We want to produce a mechanism to try and reduce that risk of concussion.”

While it’s unclear if increased internal padding truly helps reduce the risks of concussions, that seems to be one of the standards that generates a higher rating on that STAR system. The New York Times reports that the two researchers are expected to release their findings in the fall or winter, and the results might not be pretty.

Although concussions can be caused by all sorts of contact, Duma said, they tend to occur most often when the head is subjected to 80 to 120 g’s of acceleration. The current standard for acceptability by USA Hockey and other governing bodies require helmets only to reduce high accelerations acting against the head to 300 g’s. A 2011 report by the concussion-awareness organization US Youth Sports noted that standard as the lowest “of any contact sporting helmet allowed for use in the United States.”

ICS Laboratories president Dale Pfriem told the New York Times that these findings will “hit hockey like a ton of bricks.” (A side-by-side comparison between the padding inside a hockey helmet and a football helmet certainly seems jarring.)

Pierre-Luc Beauchamp, a spokesman for CCM, said it’s too early to tell what might happen as a result of the research – the report indicates that the STAR system made a big impact on football helmet sales – and wonders if more padding means fewer concussions.

Those are all valid questions, but taking a deeper look at equipment might just help make a dangerous game a little bit safer.

Latest Posts
  1. Evander Kane: I know I can score 50 goals

    Sep 19, 2014, 11:01 PM EDT

    Evander Kane AP

    The Winnipeg Jets would settle for far less after he scored just 19 last season.

  2. Tom Wilson (broken leg) not sure when he’ll return

    Sep 19, 2014, 10:03 PM EDT

    Tom Wilson Getty Images

    The last thing he wants is to suffer a setback by rushing his recovery.

  3. ‘C’-less Thornton comes out swing against Wilson’s ‘tomorrow team’ talk

    Sep 19, 2014, 9:37 PM EDT

    TORONTO, ON - DECEMBER 3: Joe Thornton #19 of the San Jose Sharks skates against the Toronto Maple Leafs during an NHL game at the Air Canada Centre on December 3, 2013 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The Sharks defeated the Leafs 4-2. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images) Getty Images

    That’s not the only summer statement he took exception to.

  4. Video: Grieving Ryan Suter talks about his late father

    Sep 19, 2014, 9:04 PM EDT

    uwbadgersbobsuter

    Bob Suter was a defenseman on the “Miracle on Ice” team.

  5. Desjardins: Canucks comfortable carrying three goalies

    Sep 19, 2014, 8:02 PM EDT

    Jacob Markstrom Getty Images

    That usually doesn’t end well, but this might be an exception.

  6. Clowe ‘advised’ to fight less, not sure he will

    Sep 19, 2014, 6:59 PM EDT

    CloweDevils Getty Images

    He suffered three concussions in under a year.

  7. Orpik heard good things ‘human-being wise’ about Trotz

    Sep 19, 2014, 6:00 PM EDT

    Brooks Orpik Getty Images

    It’s part of the reason why the defenseman is playing for Washington.

  8. Joe Sakic’s now general manager in name too

    Sep 19, 2014, 4:17 PM EDT

    Joe Sakic Executive Vice President of Hockey Operations of the Colorado Avalanche addresses the media as Patrick Roy is introduced as the new Head Coach/Vice President of Hockey Operations of the Colorado Avalanche during a press conference at the Pepsi Center on May 28, 2013 in Denver, Colorado.
(May 27, 2013 - Source: Doug Pensinger/Getty Images North America) Getty Images

    Greg Sherman stayed on as his assistant.

  9. Kyle Palmieri out at least two weeks with high ankle sprain

    Sep 19, 2014, 3:33 PM EDT

    kylepalmierigetty Getty Images

    He’s not the only member of the Ducks that’s hurting.

  10. Doughty (upper body) listed as day-to-day

    Sep 19, 2014, 3:00 PM EDT

    Drew Doughty Getty Images

    Held out of Kings’ on-ice activities on Friday.

  11. Sakic says Avs ownership gave ‘green light’ to ‘make this team win’

    Sep 19, 2014, 2:06 PM EDT

    Joe Sakic AP

    “We’re a cap team now, despite us being in the bottom five of the league in ticket revenue.”

  12. Update: Giroux out two weeks with lower-body injury

    Sep 19, 2014, 2:00 PM EDT

    Claude Giroux Getty Images

    Flyers captain currently being evaluated.

  13. Nuge must ‘step up’ for Oilers, who are thin down the middle

    Sep 19, 2014, 1:21 PM EDT

    Ryan Nugent-Hopkins Getty Images

    “We have two NHL centermen right now,” said Dallas Eakins.

  14. Blues invite Ryan Whitney to camp

    Sep 19, 2014, 1:09 PM EDT

    whitneyryangetty Getty Images

    Just like they did last year.

  15. NHL GMs sympathize with Jackets on Johansen situation

    Sep 19, 2014, 12:31 PM EDT

    Davidson

    But most of them wouldn’t have gone public with the negotiations.

  16. In final contract year, Hartley unfazed by lack of new deal

    Sep 19, 2014, 11:59 AM EDT

    Bob Hartley AP

    What does his future hold in Calgary?

  17. Coyotes GM: We can’t ‘match up, No. 1 line to No. 1 line, with many teams in the West’

    Sep 19, 2014, 11:07 AM EDT

    Don Maloney AP

    “But maybe we can control the top lines and outperform the lower lines.”

  18. Ducks GM hoping ‘the kids’ can get it done in goal

    Sep 19, 2014, 10:56 AM EDT

    John Gibson Getty Images

    “I’m sure they’re up to the task.”

Sign up for Fantasy hockey

Top 10 NHL Player Searches
  1. J. Quick (1204)
  2. B. Schenn (1099)
  3. N. Horton (976)
  4. R. McDonagh (959)
  5. B. Bishop (943)