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Helmet companies work on better helmets to prevent brain injuries

This year, much attention has been paid to the head injuries people are suffering when playing sports. NFL athletes are not the only ones who are subject to developing serious brain injuries. Youth athletes and recreational athletes can also suffer life-altering brain injuries after sustaining a blow to the head.

Part of the problem, according to recent reports, is that helmets may not do as good of a job at protecting the brain as many people assume.

Helmet manufacturers are currently investing in creating better helmets that might protect athletes much better. According to a recent report in Outside Magazine, the technologies that are being developed could provide 60 percent more protection than the traditional helmet designs.

Since the 1990s, helmets have consisted of little more than expanded polystyrene foam inside of a polycarbonate shell. The helmets are only designed to withstand one significant blow to the head.

One of the newer technologies that is being developed is called vinyl nitrate. This is a softer foam, and it is currently being used in a ski helmet that has a fairly flexible shell. The combination is meant to withstand multiple impacts without cracking. 

Another design, which was created by a California company and Johns Hopkins University, is a helmet composed of three layers instead of two. It has a hard shell on the outside, a medium-density foam inside of that, and an expanded polystyrene foam inside of that. This helmet, which is currently worn by skiers, is meant to reduce the effects of an impact by as much as 65 percent.

These are just a couple of the new helmet designs that are out there.

While these developments are very interesting, California residents should be reminded that it is important to seek medical attention after suffering a blow to the head - even if a helmet was worn. Symptoms of a brain injury do not always appear right away, and early medical attention can be critical. Those who do suffer brain injuries are also wise to learn about their legal options.

Source: Outside Magazine, "Building a Better Helmet," Gordy Megroz, Nov. 7, 2013

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