Enhancing Helmet Design to Mitigate the Impact of Concussions

March 13, 2024

Nick Cecchi's journey towards concussion research wasn't sparked by a sudden revelation, but rather by a significant head injury during his college water polo practice. This incident led him to connect with Dr. James Hicks at UC Irvine, who was pioneering a study on head impacts and concussions in water polo using wearable sensors. Given Cecchi's background as a water polo player pursuing an engineering degree and his recent brain injury, he swiftly immersed himself in the research. Today, as a graduate student at Stanford University under Dr. David Camarillo, Cecchi focuses on investigating concussions and devising strategies to mitigate their occurrence and long-term effects.

Cecchi emphasizes the diverse array of symptoms associated with concussions, ranging from headaches to changes in mood and behavior, with some cases leading to post-concussive syndrome lasting months. Additionally, he highlights the significance of sub-concussive impacts, which may not exhibit immediate symptoms but can accumulate over time, potentially leading to neurodegenerative diseases later in life, such as chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).

One of Cecchi's notable endeavors involves the development of a football helmet equipped with 21 liquid shock absorbers. Tests conducted on a prototype of this helmet demonstrated a 33% reduction in the severity of both concussive and subconcussive impacts compared to existing models, as measured by the Head Accelerate Response Metric. As a recipient of the U.S. National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship, Cecchi's work holds promise for advancing athlete safety and minimizing the long-term consequences of head injuries.

SOURCE: https://new.nsf.gov/science-matters/improving-helmets-reduce-impact-concussions