Flexible NFL helmet aims to reduce injuries – wtvr.com

Head injuries have plagued the NFL for years. But the helmets that players wear have retained roughly the same design since the 1970s.

This season, about 70 NFL players are wearing a new helmet that’s a radical departure from previous iterations — and, the league believes, safer.

It won’t be easy to spot when you’re watching games on Sunday. The Vicis Zero1 looks a lot like other helmets. But it’s designed to soften the blows to the heads of NFL players.

The scientists, neurosurgeons and engineers who designed the helmet make clear that it won’t prevent concussions. No helmet will. Houston Texans linebacker Brian Cushing, who wears the Vicis helmet, suffered a concussion during his team’s first game of the season.

But the NFL and the NFL Players Association spent the last few years testing dozens of helmet concepts that could help protect players. Out of all the designs, the Vicis ranked highest in safety.

It works by offering four layers of protection. An outer layer compresses to absorb shock and then rebounds, the way a tennis ball deforms when it hits a solid surface and then returns to shape.

Below that is a layer of polymer columns that move in different directions to absorb shock and reduce force. A hard inner shell helps prevent skull fractures and brain bleeds. And a layer of memory foam provides comfort.

That makes the Vicis helmet, which sells for $1,500, markedly different from other helmets, most of which consist of a single layer of foam cushioning inside a hard plastic shell. Other models tested alongside the Vicis by the NFL and NFLPA feature these outer shells and various levels of cushioning.

About half of NFL teams placed orders for their players. (Individual players, not teams, decide which helmets to wear.) Players from

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