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Experts Call for Twist on Football Helmet Design
Date:4/13/2011

By Randy Dotinga
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, April 13 (HealthDay News) -- A new report suggests that researchers should explore ways to redesign football helmets to reduce the risk of brain hemorrhage after a collision, a rare occurrence but one that could kill a player.

In recent years, football organizations and the media have largely focused on the risk for concussions during games, especially in light of evidence that they can lead to permanent brain damage. Bleeding in the brain has received less attention.

Dr. Jonathan A. Forbes, a resident in neurosurgery at Vanderbilt University and lead author of the new report, said that the research findings suggest that "it's worth taking a new look at the safety of helmets."

Since 1945, more than 350 football players wearing helmets have died of bleeding in the brain after collisions, according to the report. However, deaths directly due to incidents on the football field have become rare in recent decades. Four deaths were reported in 2007, according to an annual survey, compared with 36 in 1968, while more than 600 were reported from 1931 to 1965.

For reasons that aren't clear, the most serious head injuries are about three times more common among high school football players than college athletes. It's rare to hear about brain bleeding in a pro football player, Forbes said.

Football helmets prevent injury by spreading the force of a collision around the head, Forbes said. In the new study, the researchers looked at something called rotational acceleration, a reference to how a blow pushes the head around, like when a boxer is punched in the side of the face.

Tests of helmet safety focus on something else, known as translational acceleration -- a reference to pushing the head back and forth or side to side -- because it's been linked to fractures of the head, Forbes explained. But, he said, research suggests that brain bleeding is significan
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