Magnets In Football Helmets – Replace Concussions With Whiplash?

Science / Tech
Image Courtesy of the New York Times

The NFL has had a problem lately.  OK, maybe a few problems.. .One of the biggest ON the field issues has been player safety in general, and concussions specifically. Neuroscientist Raymond Colello of Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond wants to try and make NFL players safer by adding strong rare-earth element neodymium magnets to their helmets.

Current helmet technology is strictly aimed at dispersing the energy from an impact that has already occurred. If successful, the magnets would disperse some of that energy before impact, thereby decreasing the possibility of injury. The magnets in this experiment are powerful enough to exert roughly 100 pounds of repulsive force when placed 1/4″ apart (with like-poles facing, of course). In Colello’s experiments, dropping a standard helmet from a height of 48 inches produced 120 g’s of force. When a helmet equipped with the magnet was dropped from the same height onto another magnet, the force was reduced to under 100 g’s.

While testing has not yet proceeded to live trials, the researchers are confident that these magnets could theoretically reduce the likelihood of concussions by up to 80%. They estimate that the weight from the magnets will only add about 1/3 of a pound to each helmet, and could raise the price by $50 to $100. Researchers are currently waiting on custom arc-shaped magnets to get to the next phase of testing – crash-test-dummies.

From where I stand, I do wonder exactly how effective these magnets would be. How big of an area will they cover? It would seem that one magnet on the crown of each helmet might not be quite as beneficial as they hope, since helmet-to-helmet hits are rarely crown-to-crown. Only one magnet wouldn’t be helpful in instances like this.

Aaron Rodgers getting sacked...Always awesome Image Courtesy of Fox News

Aaron Rodgers getting sacked…Always awesome
Image Courtesy of Fox News

I do like seeing Aaron Rodgers getting sacked though, go Bears! (yes I know they’re terrible this year)

In order to be completely effective, they’d need at least 4 magnets per helmet – crown, back, and each side, which might add too much weight. Too many magnets could also increase the repulsive force, and while it’s highly unlikely that would actually cause whiplash when a player goes for a tackle, it’s a funny image in my head.

  Source: ScienceNews  Via: Discovery News

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