A High-Tech Helmet Protects Football Players from Concussions

A Seattle-based startup plays defense against concussions with a high-tech helmet
| FROM THE PRINT EDITION |
 
 

Finding a better way to protect football players from concussion and traumatic brain injury is a priority for players and coaches alike. Seattle-based startup Vicis, founded in 2013, may have an answer: a cutting-edge helmet.

The Zero1, evolved from technology developed by faculty of the University of Washington’s mechanical engineering and neurological surgery departments, features four layers of protection to absorb impact and provide a better fit. After years of fine-tuning, the helmet, which costs about $1,500, is available for college and NFL teams for the 2016–17 season. Although at press time the company wasn’t ready to confirm which teams, Vicis CEO Dave Marver told us two top NCAA programs in the Pacific Northwest will be using the helmets this fall.

The Helmet:

  • The outer shell acts like a car bumper, deforming to absorb impact, as opposed to the hard shell of traditional helmets, which only guards against skull fractures
  • A columnar-structured layer moves in all directions to further reduce linear and rotational impact forces, which are often connected to concussion
  • Removable jaw pads make it easier for medics to remove the helmet after a suspected injury is sustained
  • A memory foam liner conforms to the player’s head and distributes pressure uniformly
  • The inner shell creates a personalized fit that offers better protection than current one-size-fits-all helmets