Football is a full contact sport, which can have severe and irreversible damage on the player’s bodies, especially the brain. Even though football players wear padding and helmets, there is still a large concern about brain damage during the games. One in every three players in the NFL will experience some form of brain trauma during his career. According to investigations from Frontline, there have been nearly 200 concussions so far just this season alone, and those were only the reported ones. Up until recently, the NFL has largely denied any connection to brain injuries with their players, but with more research and public awareness, this has become an open discussion. So, what can be done?
There has been little to no research in updating and improving helmets over the past forty years. The NFL has recently given grants to research teams to try and design a way to prevent traumatic brain injuries during the sport. One of the companies that received a grant was Vicis, who went on to create a flexible helmet called Zero1. Vicis believes Zero1 can reduce the chances of the player sustaining a concussion. Dave Marver, VICIS CEO stated that Zero1 was created with the intention of becoming the safest helmet ever made. The Zero1 received $40 million in investments for the product.
The Zero1 borrows ideas from the automotive industry, which has used plastic bumpers and crumple zones as protective measures for decades. The Zero1, which was designed with the help of Seattle design studio Artefact, revolves around a multilayered system that begins with a flexible outer shell made from a bendable plastic and ends with an inner shell and line that are meant to provide a more customized fit around the head. Beneath the outer shell is the core layer, which is comprised of hundreds of flexible columns that act like shock absorbers.
Zero1 is now being used by plays on 18 NFL teams, and about 20 college teams. Vicis is optimistic that the Zero1 will continue to be the go to helmet for football players, both in the NFL and college leagues. The companies next project will target the younger generations of football players as well.