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. Florida waives Boyes for buyout purposes

    Jun 30, 2015, 12:15 PM EDT

    Carolina Hurricanes v Florida Panthers Getty Images

    33-year-old had 14 goals and 38 points last year.

  2. Hurricanes to buy out Semin

    Jun 30, 2015, 12:13 PM EDT

    Carolina Hurricanes v Columbus Blue Jackets Getty Images

    Six goals in 57 games last season.

  3. What character concerns? Treliving has ‘slept like a baby’ since Hamilton trade

    Jun 30, 2015, 10:57 AM EDT

    Dougie Hamilton Getty Images

    “This doesn’t keep me awake at night. Since the day we got Dougie Hamilton, I’ve had the best sleeps of the past few years. “

  4. ‘Hawks sign No. 3 goalie Leighton to one-year extension

    Jun 30, 2015, 10:42 AM EDT

    Michael Leighton, Chicago Blackhawks Getty Images

    With Antti Raanta gone, he’s now set as the backup’s backup.

  5. Report: Isles, Hickey closing in three-year pact around $6.5M

    Jun 30, 2015, 10:24 AM EDT

    thomashickeygetty Getty Images

    26-year-old defenseman has missed just one game over the last two years.

  6. Lightning, Sustr agree on two-year extension

    Jun 30, 2015, 10:23 AM EDT

    Andrej Sustr Getty Images

    It’s reportedly worth $2.9 million.

  7. Lehtonen, Niemi see benefit in splitting goalie duties

    Jun 30, 2015, 9:50 AM EDT

    Kari Lehtonen Getty Images

    They both finished in the top 10 in minutes in 2014-15.

  8. Caps’ Wey retires at 24 due to concussions

    Jun 30, 2015, 8:57 AM EDT

    Patrick Wey Getty Images

    He made his NHL debut during the 2013-14 campaign before his career was derailed.

  9. Where to next? Arcobello poised to test UFA market

    Jun 29, 2015, 10:55 PM EDT

    Anaheim Ducks v Arizona Coyotes Anaheim Ducks v Arizona Coyotes

    He played with four different NHL teams last season.

  10. B’s GM Sweeney a lightning rod for criticism

    Jun 29, 2015, 10:31 PM EDT

    Don Sweeney AP

    It’s not all about the Zac Rinaldo trade, although that certainly didn’t help.

  11. VandeVelde signs two-year extension with Flyers

    Jun 29, 2015, 9:29 PM EDT

    Chris VandeVelde Getty Images

    He establish himself with the team after years of work primarily in the AHL.

  12. Sharks agree to five-year deal with Brenden Dillon

    Jun 29, 2015, 8:26 PM EDT

    Brenden Dillon Getty Images

    San Jose still has an opening on its blueline.

  13. Canucks hand Markstrom two-year, $3.1 mil deal

    Jun 29, 2015, 8:00 PM EDT

    Jacob Markstrom Getty Images

    He’ll start the season as Vancouver’s backup goaltender.

  14. Riley Nash, Yannick Weber among those without qualifying offers

    Jun 29, 2015, 7:40 PM EDT

    Yannick Weber Getty Images

    They are now set to become unrestricted free agents.

  15. Vancouver signs Linden Vey to one-year extension

    Jun 29, 2015, 6:43 PM EDT

    Linden Vey Getty Images

    He’ll reportedly earn $1 million next season.

Top 10 NHL Player Searches
  1. D. Hamilton (2066)
  2. C. Talbot (2010)
  3. R. O'Reilly (1966)
  4. S. Gagner (1746)
  5. M. Richards (1628)
  1. R. Lehner (1625)
  2. E. Etem (1610)
  3. M. Lucic (1527)
  4. A. Niemi (1449)
  5. K. Letang (1390)