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. Report: Visnovsky considering European options

    Jul 28, 2015, 9:38 PM EDT

    WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 04: Lubomir Visnovsky #11 of the New York Islanders in action against the Washington Capitals at the Verizon Center on February 4, 2014 in Washington, DC. The New York Islanders won, 1-0. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Potentially a move to Switzerland, or the Czech League.

  2. Sabres name Cunneyworth AHL head coach

    Jul 28, 2015, 8:39 PM EDT

    Randy Cunneyworth Getty Images

    Returning him to Rochester for a third time.

  3. Orpik undergoes wrist surgery, should be ready for season opener

    Jul 28, 2015, 7:39 PM EDT

    PA: Washington Capitals v Pittsburgh Penguins Getty Images

    Washington d-man is expected to miss the next two weeks of offseason training.

  4. Flyers re-sign Couturier: six years, $26 million

    Jul 28, 2015, 4:39 PM EDT

    New York Rangers v Philadelphia Flyers - Game Four Getty Images

    Nice payday after posting a career-high in goals this season.

  5. For Pens, Tuesday’s moves were all about depth and finances up front

    Jul 28, 2015, 4:23 PM EDT

    Jim Rutherford AP

    “When you look at the structure of our salaries and our cap, it’s important to get those bottom-six cap hits in better shape.”

  6. Journeyman Steckel signs in German League

    Jul 28, 2015, 3:21 PM EDT

    David Steckel AP

    With the Nurnberg Ice Tigers.

  7. Benning calls Sutter a ‘foundation piece’ for Canucks

    Jul 28, 2015, 1:45 PM EDT

    Pittsburgh Penguins v New York Rangers - Game One Getty Images

    “When the games mean something, that’s when he’s at his best.”

  8. Here’s a chart that shows which teams have been good/bad at drafting

    Jul 28, 2015, 1:21 PM EDT

    Chicago Blackhawks v Columbus Blue Jackets Getty Images

    The Blue Jackets have done well. The Canucks have not.

  9. Leafs sign Marner to entry-level contract

    Jul 28, 2015, 12:34 PM EDT

    Mitchell Marner AP

    Probably looking at another year of junior hockey.

  10. Agent: Kruger ‘will be patient’ with Chicago’s cap situation

    Jul 28, 2015, 9:00 AM EDT

    Marcus Kruger Getty Images

    25-year-old didn’t file for arbitration, hoping instead to sign a long-term contract.

  11. Report: Antropov mulling NHL return

    Jul 27, 2015, 9:29 PM EDT

    Nik Antropov Getty Images

    But are any teams mulling his return?

  12. Mayers returning to ‘Hawks in front office role

    Jul 27, 2015, 8:21 PM EDT

    jamalmayersgetty Getty Images

    Where he’ll work as a community liaison.

Top 10 NHL Player Searches
  1. B. Holtby (2391)
  2. D. Stepan (2122)
  3. G. Bettman (2108)
  4. A. Larsson (2032)
  5. A. Semin (1537)
  1. C. Ehrhoff (1266)
  2. L. Couture (1241)
  3. M. Johansson (1232)
  4. D. Tippett (1221)
  5. P. Datsyuk (1198)