Researchers at Virginia Tech have devised a five-star rating system for hockey helmet safety, and not one of the 32 helmets tested earned a five or even a four-star rating, the team revealed this week.
Researchers subjected each model of helmet to 48 impacts inside an ice rink and at the laboratory. The helmets were then ranked according to how many concussions the wearer could expect over an average hockey season. The sturdiest helmet, the Warrior Krown 360, received a three-star rating, meaning the wearer was unlikely to suffer more than three concussions. Nine helmets received zero stars, which could expose the wearer to six or more concussions, according to the team's predictions.
Price appeared to have no effect on performance, with helmets priced at $100 outperforming helmets at triple the price.
The researchers decided to examine hockey helmets because the sport has the highest rate of concussions, assistant professor Steven Rowson said.
“Our focus is to improve the safety of the sport, and we have spent a great deal of time developing the methods and relaying these to the manufacturers so that they can optimize their designs," said lead researcher Stefan Duma, head of the university's Department of Biomedical Engineering and Mechanics.