Very interesting reading, especially given the new studies suggesting that concussions are a lot lot worse to the long-term health of football players than we've previously suspected. Given all the money that's already poured into football it is really surprising to me that there's been no major changes to helmets in years, if the article is accurate. I also find it a bit disturbing as a parent of a 10 year old boy that has expressed some interest in football that so many helmets are used over and over (yes, I know not everyone has the money to buy a new helmet every year) with no tracking of how old they are or even if they've ever been reconditioned.
As a bicyclist, I replace my helmets on a two year cycle, which means, if my helmet has not been in an accident, I actually toss it in the recycle bin. There's some thought that taking it on and off, the natural knocking around the helmet is going to get being tossed around, and UV light possibly deteriorating the materials the helmet is made out that it makes sense to replace the helmet (plus even if you wash them out, they get *nasty* after a while).
The rule of thumb is if you crash and land on your head, even if you don't see a crack in the plastic shell, the foam may be cracked where you can't see it, so you toss it after a crash. I know my helmet has saved either my life or me from serious injury on a couple of falls and the one time I was hit and knocked out, and I consider my brain important enough to drop the $40-$60 (anymore than that is silly, BTW, you are just paying for the shell and color, they are all required to conform to the same standard whether its a $20 helmet or a $200 racing helmet).
But I can't imagine that a football helmet - given the very simple test that they have developed for preventing skull fractures - is the same after thousands of collisions and years of wear. Ever grab something out of your attic that's made out of plastic that's a decade or so old, and find that the plastic may have gotten brittle?
Yes, I know money is tight for many people, but you can't currently go out and buy a replacement for your brain for a couple of hundred bucks, and a MRI of your head is going to run what, at least a grand? I don't get people who ride their bikes without a helmet (or motorcycle), yes, it may look cool and fashionable to not wear a helmet but your brain is worth at least the cost of a cheap Wal-fart helmet IMHO.
It seems to me that with players being a lot bigger and faster today than they were 20-30 years ago that the football helmet is way overdue for some changes industry wide, but, as the article points out, everyone is so afraid of being sued (plus its going to cost money to do research and to change manufacturing processes) that nothing is being done... anyway, I thought this might make for some interesting discussion, especially for those of you that played football at the youth, high school and college levels and may have used hand-me-down helmets (I so wanted to play, but, I had a very conservative eye doctor in the 70s who said I'd knock my retina loose if I got a concussion... I'm very near sighted - so he convinced my parents to ban me from contact sports... and being able to see IS kind of important)...