The Thrill of the Game, the Agony of Injuries

Hey football fans, the time of year you’ve been waiting for is now. Regardless of whether it’s a high school, college or professional team you’re rooting for, there’s one aspect of the game that reaches all levels: the increased incidence of on-field injuries, especially head injuries and concussions, and the updates regarding their long-term effects on the players. As we hear more about these accidents, more attention is being given to the players’ safety and how injuries could be prevented, specifically by evaluating their protective helmets.

While it’s known that thousands of football players, across all levels of play suffer concussions or head injuries each year, a recent study has shown that high school players are affected at a higher rate.[1] In fact, many high schools are now adjusting and tightening their policies in regards to football-sustained head injuries among the young players.[2] The same is happening at the college level—players and coaches alike are paying more attention to the seriousness of these injuries.

At the professional level, concussions among NFL players have become a compelling topic in recent years, due to the short and long-term effects sustained by current and retired players. It’s been determined in the past few years that sustaining concussions while playing has caused long-term diseases among many players, including dementia, depression and the disease CTE[3] (Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy.) Off the field, this issue has become a legal matter, as a number of former players are suing the NFL; they are currently working on a settlement.

Today’s helmets consist of thick cushions of foam that surround the player’s head as a protective layer from the hard shell. But with the violent collisions that are so much a part of the sport, how much protection to the brain is really provided? Is there an alternative that might absorb the force of the blow and distribute the energy so that the impact and injury is lessened?

One alternative can be found in 3D spacer textiles. Spacer textiles consist of a layer of fabric on each side with a monofilament running up and down between the fabric layers. Spacers are an ideal substitute for foam because these provide a better cushion, allow more air flow within the helmet, and retain their structure, unlike foam which has a tendency to disintegrate over time, leaving players more susceptible to injury.

We have the capabilities to make 3D spacers in a variety of thicknesses and densities, to provide more of a cushion within the helmet. They are also drapable, so they maintain their form and provide enhanced design flexibility. 3D spacers could prove to be the extra line of defense for these football players against any serious head injuries. For more information about Apex Mills’ 3D spacer solutions, visit the textile gallery on our website, and feel free to contact us with any questions.

[1] http://www.newschannel10.com/story/26621334/risks-of-concussions-with-high-school-football-players

[2] http://www.mprnews.org/story/2014/09/30/high-school-concussions-transform-high-school-football-in-minnesota

[3] http://www.vox.com/2014/9/5/6106851/nfl-football-concussions