Annals of Biomedical Engineering

, Volume 39, Issue 8, pp 2130–2140 | Cite as

Development of the STAR Evaluation System for Football Helmets: Integrating Player Head Impact Exposure and Risk of Concussion

  • Steven RowsonEmail author
  • Stefan M. Duma


In contrast to the publicly available data on the safety of automobiles, consumers have no analytical mechanism to evaluate the protective performance of football helmets. The objective of this article is to fill this void by introducing a new equation that can be used to evaluate helmet performance by integrating player head impact exposure and risk of concussion. The Summation of Tests for the Analysis of Risk (STAR) equation relates on-field impact exposure to a series of 24 drop tests performed at four impact locations and six impact energy levels. Using 62,974 head acceleration data points collected from football players, the number of impacts experienced for one full season was translated to 24 drop test configurations. A new injury risk function was developed from 32 measured concussions and associated exposure data to assess risk of concussion for each impact. Finally, the data from all 24 drop tests is combined into one number using the STAR formula that incorporates the predicted exposure and injury risk for one player for one full season of practices and games. The new STAR evaluation equation will provide consumers with a meaningful metric to assess the relative performance of football helmets.


Concussion Mild traumatic brain injury Acceleration Risk Exposure HITS Impact 



The authors gratefully acknowledge our sponsors for this research, including the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and National Institutes of Health (National Institute for Child Health and Human Development) (Contract No. R01HD048638).


  1. 1.
    Booher, M. A., J. Wisniewski, B. W. Smith, and A. Sigurdsson. Comparison of reporting systems to determine concussion incidence in NCAA Division I collegiate football. Clin. J. Sport Med. 13:93–95, 2003.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Broglio, S. P., M. S. Ferrara, S. G. Piland, R. B. Anderson, and A. Collie. Concussion history is not a predictor of computerised neurocognitive performance. Br. J. Sports Med. 40:802–805, 2006; discussion 5.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Broglio, S. P., B. Schnebel, J. J. Sosnoff, S. Shin, X. Fend, X. He, and J. Zimmerman. Biomechanical properties of concussions in high school football. Med. Sci. Sports Exerc. 42:2064–2071, 2010.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Broglio, S. P., J. J. Sosnoff, S. Shin, X. He, C. Alcaraz, and J. Zimmerman. Head impacts during high school football: a biomechanical assessment. J. Athl. Train. 44:342–349, 2009.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Crisco, J. J., J. J. Chu, and R. M. Greenwald. An algorithm for estimating acceleration magnitude and impact location using multiple nonorthogonal single-axis accelerometers. J. Biomech. Eng. 126:849–854, 2004.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Crisco, J. J., R. Fiore, J. G. Beckwith, J. J. Chu, P. G. Brolinson, S. Duma, T. W. McAllister, A. C. Duhaime, and R. M. Greenwald. Frequency and location of head impact exposures in individual collegiate football players. J. Athl. Train. 45:549–559, 2010.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Crisco, J. J., and R. M. Greenwald. Let’s get the head further out of the game: a proposal for reducing brain injuries in helmeted contact sports. Curr. Sports Med. Rep. 10:7–9, 2011.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Daneshvar, D. H., C. J. Nowinski, A. C. McKee, and R. C. Cantu. The epidemiology of sport-related concussion. Clin. Sports Med. 30:1–17, 2011.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Dick, R., M. S. Ferrara, J. Agel, R. Courson, S. W. Marshall, M. J. Hanley, and F. Reifsteck. Descriptive epidemiology of collegiate men’s football injuries: national collegiate athletic association injury surveillance system, 1988–1989 through 2003–2004. J. Athl. Train. 42:221–233, 2007.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Domenico, L. D., and G. Nusholtz. Comparison of Parametric and Non-Parametric Methods for Determining Injury Risk. SAE Technical Paper Series, SAE 2003-01-1362, 2003.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Duma, S. M., S. J. Manoogian, W. R. Bussone, P. G. Brolinson, M. W. Goforth, J. J. Donnenwerth, R. M. Greenwald, J. J. Chu, and J. J. Crisco. Analysis of real-time head accelerations in collegiate football players. Clin. J. Sport Med. 15:3–8, 2005.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Duma, S. M., and S. Rowson. Every newton hertz: a macro to micro approach to investigating brain injury. Conf. Proc. IEEE Eng. Med. Biol. Soc. 1:1123–1126, 2009.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Duma, S. M., and S. Rowson. Past, present, and future of head injury research. Exerc. Sport Sci. Rev. 39:2–3, 2011.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Funk, J. R., S. M. Duma, S. J. Manoogian, and S. Rowson. Biomechanical risk estimates for mild traumatic brain injury. Annu. Proc. Assoc. Adv. Automot. Med. 51:343–361, 2007.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Gadd, C. W. Use of a weighted-impulse criterion for estimating injury hazard. In: Proceedings of the 10th Stapp Car Crash Conference, SAE 660793, 1966.Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Gavett, B. E., R. A. Stern, and A. C. McKee. Chronic traumatic encephalopathy: a potential late effect of sport-related concussive and subconcussive head trauma. Clin. Sports Med. 30:179–188, 2011.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Greenwald, R. M., J. T. Gwin, J. J. Chu, and J. J. Crisco. Head impact severity measures for evaluating mild traumatic brain injury risk exposure. Neurosurgery 62:789–798, 2008; discussion 98.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Guskiewicz, K. M., S. W. Marshall, J. Bailes, M. McCrea, R. C. Cantu, C. Randolph, and B. D. Jordan. Association between recurrent concussion and late-life cognitive impairment in retired professional football players. Neurosurgery 57:719–726, 2005; discussion 26.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Guskiewicz, K. M., S. W. Marshall, J. Bailes, M. McCrea, H. P. Harding, Jr., A. Matthews, J. R. Mihalik, and R. C. Cantu. Recurrent concussion and risk of depression in retired professional football players. Med. Sci. Sports Exerc. 39:903–909, 2007.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Guskiewicz, K. M., M. McCrea, S. W. Marshall, R. C. Cantu, C. Randolph, W. Barr, J. A. Onate, and J. P. Kelly. Cumulative effects associated with recurrent concussion in collegiate football players: the NCAA concussion study. JAMA 290:2549–2555, 2003.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Guskiewicz, K. M., J. P. Mihalik, V. Shankar, S. W. Marshall, D. H. Crowell, S. M. Oliaro, M. F. Ciocca, and D. N. Hooker. Measurement of head impacts in collegiate football players: relationship between head impact biomechanics and acute clinical outcome after concussion. Neurosurgery 61:1244–1253, 2007.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Gwin, J. T., J. J. Chu, S. G. Diamond, P. D. Halstead, J. J. Crisco, and R. M. Greenwald. An investigation of the NOCSAE linear impactor test method based on in vivo measures of head impact acceleration in American football. J. Biomech. Eng. 132:011006, 2010.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Hackney, J. R., and C. J. Kahane. The New Car Assessment Program: Five Star Rating System and Vehicle Safety Performance Characteristics. SAE Technical Paper Series, SAE 851245, 1995.Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Hanlon, E., and C. Bir. Validation of a wireless head acceleration measurement system for use in soccer play. J. Appl. Biomech. 26:424–431, 2010.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Janda, D. H., C. A. Bir, and A. L. Cheney. An evaluation of the cumulative concussive effect of soccer heading in the youth population. Inj. Control Saf. Promot. 9:25–31, 2002.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    Kent, R. W., and J. R. Funk. Data Censoring and Parametric Distribution Assignment in the Development of Injury Risk Functions from Biomechanical Data. SAE Technical Paper Series, SAE 2004-01-0317, 2004.Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    King, A. I., K. H. Yang, L. Zhang, W. Hardy, and D. C. Viano. Is head injury caused by linear or angular acceleration? In: Proceedings of the International Research Conference on the Biomechanics of Impact (IRCOBI), 2003.Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    Laituri, T. R., S. Henry, K. Sullivan, and M. Nutt. Considerations of “combined probability of injury” in the next-generation USA frontal NCAP. Traffic Inj. Prev. 11:371–381, 2010.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. 29.
    Langlois, J. A., W. Rutland-Brown, and M. M. Wald. The epidemiology and impact of traumatic brain injury: a brief overview. J. Head Trauma Rehabil. 21:375–378, 2006.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. 30.
    McCrea, M., T. Hammeke, G. Olsen, P. Leo, and K. Guskiewicz. Unreported concussion in high school football players: implications for prevention. Clin. J. Sport Med. 14:13–17, 2004.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. 31.
    Mihalik, J. P., D. R. Bell, S. W. Marshall, and K. M. Guskiewicz. Measurement of head impacts in collegiate football players: an investigation of positional and event-type differences. Neurosurgery 61:1229–1235, 2007; discussion 35.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. 32.
    Morrison, B., III, D. F. Meaney, and T. K. McIntosh. Mechanical characterization of an in vitro device designed to quantitatively injure living brain tissue. Ann. Biomed. Eng. 26:381–390, 1998.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. 33.
    Morrison, B., III, K. E. Saatman, D. F. Meaney, and T. K. McIntosh. In vitro central nervous system models of mechanically induced trauma: a review. J. Neurotrauma 15:911–928, 1998.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. 34.
    NOCSAE. Standard test method and equipment used in evaluating the performance characteristics of protective headgear/equipment. National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment: NOCSAE DOC (ND)001-08m10, 2009.Google Scholar
  35. 35.
    Omalu, B. I., S. T. DeKosky, R. L. Hamilton, R. L. Minster, M. I. Kamboh, A. M. Shakir, and C. H. Wecht. Chronic traumatic encephalopathy in a national football league player: part II. Neurosurgery 59:1086–1092, 2006; discussion 92–93.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  36. 36.
    Omalu, B. I., S. T. DeKosky, R. L. Minster, M. I. Kamboh, R. L. Hamilton, and C. H. Wecht. Chronic traumatic encephalopathy in a national football league player. Neurosurgery 57:128–134, 2005; discussion 34.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. 37.
    Pellman, E. J., J. W. Powell, D. C. Viano, I. R. Casson, A. M. Tucker, H. Feuer, M. Lovell, J. F. Waeckerle, and D. W. Robertson. Concussion in professional football: epidemiological features of game injuries and review of the literature–part 3. Neurosurgery 54:81–94, 2004; discussion 6.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. 38.
    Pellman, E. J., D. C. Viano, A. M. Tucker, I. R. Casson, and J. F. Waeckerle. Concussion in professional football: reconstruction of game impacts and injuries. Neurosurgery 53:799–812, 2003; discussion 4.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  39. 39.
    Rowson, S., J. G. Beckwith, J. J. Chu, D. S. Leonard, R. M. Greenwald, and S. M. Duma. A six degree of freedom head acceleration measurement device for use in football. J. Appl. Biomech. 27:8–14, 2011.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  40. 40.
    Rowson, S., G. Brolinson, M. Goforth, D. Dietter, and S. M. Duma. Linear and angular head acceleration measurements in collegiate football. J. Biomech. Eng. 131:061016, 2009.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. 41.
    Rowson, S., C. McNally, and S. M. Duma. Can footwear affect achilles tendon loading? Clin. J. Sport Med. 20:344–349, 2010.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. 42.
    Rowson, S., D. E. McNeely, P. G. Brolinson, and S. M. Duma. Biomechanical analysis of football neck collars. Clin. J. Sport Med. 18:316–321, 2008.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. 43.
    Schnebel, B., J. T. Gwin, S. Anderson, and R. Gatlin. In vivo study of head impacts in football: a comparison of national collegiate athletic association division I versus high school impacts. Neurosurgery 60:490–495, 2007; discussion 5–6.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. 44.
    Shain, K. S., M. L. Madigan, S. Rowson, J. Bisplinghoff, and S. M. Duma. Analysis of the ability of catcher’s masks to attenuate head accelerations on impact with a baseball. Clin. J. Sport Med. 20:422–427, 2010.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. 45.
    Takhounts, E. G., S. A. Ridella, V. Hasija, R. E. Tannous, J. Q. Campbell, D. Malone, K. Danelson, J. Stitzel, S. Rowson, and S. Duma. Investigation of traumatic brain injuries using the next generation of simulated injury monitor (simon) finite element head model. Stapp Car Crash J. 52:1–31, 2008.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  46. 46.
    Williamson, I. J., and D. Goodman. Converging evidence for the under-reporting of concussions in youth ice hockey. Br. J. Sports Med. 40:128–132, 2006; discussion 32.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Biomedical Engineering Society 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Virginia Tech – Wake Forest University, School of Biomedical Engineering and SciencesBlacksburgUSA

Personalised recommendations