Updated February 20, 2021
Let’s face it, football season is unlike any other. It unites fans, the tailgate food is delicious, and there’s just something about rooting for your favorite team that brings excitement like no other. But in order to fully enjoy football, it’s important to acknowledge the risk of injury football players face.
The rising awareness for concussions has changed the dynamics of football, from lawsuits against the NCAA and NFL which still continue today, to increased safety protocols. A significant change that alters the playing field- so to speak- as advancement in helmet technology.
VICIS made a football helmet in 2016 specifically designed to reduce the risk and severity of concussions and traumatic brain injury (TBI). The Seattle-based company developed the ZERO1 helmet. The helmet is the result of millions of dollars of investment and several years of research involving current and former NFL players and coaches, neurosurgeons, and engineers. Players in the NFL and NCAA started wearing the ZERO1 helmet in 2017.
VICIS has seen its share of economic hardship and after changes to its business plan, the ZERO2 is now out to protect athletes. The helmet’s design is engineered to help mitigate impact and injury. The helmet’s most notable feature is its deformable outer shell, which absorbs forces of impact.
TBI is a serious problem in football and other sports. A number of high-profile reports have covered the long-term issue of TBI and a related condition, chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), because of how they have affected the lives of many NFL players. But these head injury problems are not exclusive to football players or to adults.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) rates TBI as a contributing factor in 30% of all injury deaths in the United States each year, accounting for more than a quarter-million hospitalizations and over 2.2 million emergency room visits. The majority of these are accident- or assault-related, but sports injuries, especially in younger Americans, have been on the rise in recent years. According to the CDC, 2014 saw approximately 2.5 million TBI-related Emergency Department visits.
TBI can have both immediate and lifelong impacts. It’s a problem that, fortunately, is being taken much more seriously today than in the past.
The manufacturer of the ZERO1 helmet views it as a technology breakthrough. Helmet design, the company says, has not advanced significantly since the 1970s. Taking cues from how car safety features, such as crumple zones and airbags, work to protect vehicle occupants, the designers sought to produce a helmet that provides maximum protection to its occupant: a player’s brain.
Citing concussion as “a major public health problem” and noting that “any concussion is a concussion too many,” VICIS used extensive testing and computer modeling to develop a helmet that makes use of a special impact-absorbing layer to respond to blows from any angle in any location. The founders of the company feel passionate about both football and safety. The ZERO1 and ZERO2 is their contribution to keeping football alive and well—and safe–in the future.
The cost of the ZERO2 starts at $699. While that’s nearly four times the cost of today’s top-of-the-line helmets, VICIS reports that the college and professional teams it is working with have not balked at the price tag.
Through the Heads Up program, the CDC offers a number of free resources to youth sports organizations and parents that explain the dangers of head injuries, how to prevent them, and what actions to take when one occurs. If there is a youth athlete in your family, you should take advantage of this information to understand the risks and how to respond.
It is good news that technology like the ZERO2 is available to athletes, but until it and similar protections become widely available, the risk of brain injury to youth athletes will continue to be a serious concern.
If you or a loved one have been injured as a result of a concussion or brain injury, you are urged to contact the Indianapolis Personal Injury Attorneys of Wilson Kehoe Winingham. The lawyers at WKW can help you get the compensation you deserve. Call 317.920.6400 or fill out an online contact form for a free, no-obligation case evaluation.
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