Publication Abstract

Modified Drop Tower Impact Tests for American Football Helmets

Rush, G. A., Prabhu, R., Rush, G. A., III., Williams, L. N., & Horstemeyer, M. (2017). Modified Drop Tower Impact Tests for American Football Helmets. JoVE (Journal of Visualized Experiments). -(120), e53929-e53929. DOI:10.3791/53929.


A modified National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment (NOCSAE) test method for American football helmet drop impact test standards is presented that would provide better assessment of a helmet's on-field impact performance by including a faceguard on the helmet. In this study, a merger of faceguard and helmet test standards is proposed. The need for a more robust systematic approach to football helmet testing procedures is emphasized by comparing representative results of the Head Injury Criterion (HIC), Severity Index (SI), and peak acceleration values for different helmets at different helmet locations under modified NOCSAE standard drop tower tests. Essentially, these comparative drop test results revealed that the faceguard adds a stiffening kinematic constraint to the shell that lessens total energy absorption. The current NOCSAE standard test methods can be improved to represent on-field helmet hits by attaching the faceguards to helmets and by including two new helmet impact locations (Front Top and Front Top Boss). The reported football helmet test method gives a more accurate representation of a helmet's performance and its ability to mitigate on-field impacts while promoting safer football helmets.