The VICIS-designed headgear is intended to be a step forward in the league’s approach to player safety and risk reduction regarding concussions and head injuries.
A new helmet is headed to the skulls of NFL quarterbacks this season.
The headgear, as first reported Thursday by the Associated Press and officially known as the Zero2 Matrix, was designed by VICIS protect against injuries caused from helmet to ground impacts. According to the league, these types of injuries (helmet-to-ground) accounted for approximately half of quarterback concussions.
In testing, the NFL said the Vicis Zero2 Matrix QB — whose design features an outer shell that deforms similarly to a car bumper on impact — performed 7% better in quarterback-specific testing than last year’s most frequently-used QB helmet, and a 20% compared to VICIS’ standard-tier helmet offering.
Whether the helmet improves concussion numbers remains to be seen. Last year, the NFL and the NFLPA adjusted concussion protocols in the middle of the season after Miami Dolphins signal-caller Tua Tagvailoa suffered a head injury during the game, then cleared the league’s concussion protocol and returned to a game. Tagovailoa then suffered another concussion days later that saw his fingers lock into a “fencing response,” where a person suffers trauma to the brain that causes the arms to flex in an unnatural position. The league is applying VICIS’ newest technology solution to help prevent injuries like Tagovailoa’s in the future.
“The thing that distinguishes quarterbacks and their concussions is they have a disproportionate number of head-to-ground impacts that cause concussions,” Jeff Miller, the NFL’s Executive VP of Communications, Public Affairs, and Policy, said via NFL.com. “This past year, we had an increase in the number of quarterback concussions, and it was the same helmet-to-ground dynamic. Many people would say it’s because quarterbacks are scrambling more often, but we didn’t see that. It was still the quarterback in the pocket, getting hit and the head hitting the ground as they were holding onto the ball.”
Helmets designed for specific positions are actually nothing new. Both the NFL and the NFLPA approved two offensive and defensive lineman helmets last year, and future innovations can be expected in the years to come.
“We’ve now analyzed with our engineers and with the players’ association more than a thousand concussions on field, we have a pretty good database of how these injuries occur,” Miller told the AP. “This helmet performs better in laboratory testing than any helmets we have ever seen for those sorts of impacts.”
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