A research group at the University of Florida led by engineering professor Ghatu Subhash will unveil the prototype for a new football helmet on Thursday. Subhash and his colleagues — neurosurgeon Ian Heger and radiologist Keith Peters — claim the new style of helmet will be better at protecting players from concussions than current models because current helmets are mainly designed to shield players from linear hits (while most concussion experts agree that it’s shearing or rotational forces that cause the most damage).
Subhash said the helmet his team designed features pouches filled with non-Newtonian fluids that will, upon impact, squeeze the fluid into a second pouch, thereby neutralizing the force: “The fluid-filled cells within the helmet respond, so no matter the angle of impact, the helmet automatically protects any part of the head” (Reuters).
However, don’t think the new helmets will immediately solve football’s concussion problem. According to Frederick Mueller, research director for the National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment, there are “no helmets that will protect against concussions.” Mueller does concede, though, that his grim outlook is due to the lack of attention helmet manufacturers have paid to rotational forces.