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

Abstract

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.

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Acknowledgments

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).

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Correspondence to Steven Rowson.

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Associate Editor Thurmon E. Lockhart oversaw the review of this article.

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Rowson, S., Duma, S.M. Development of the STAR Evaluation System for Football Helmets: Integrating Player Head Impact Exposure and Risk of Concussion. Ann Biomed Eng 39, 2130–2140 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10439-011-0322-5

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Keywords

  • Concussion
  • Mild traumatic brain injury
  • Acceleration
  • Risk
  • Exposure
  • HITS
  • Impact