Daily Hampshire Gazette - Established 1786
Clouds and sun
78°
Clouds and sun
Hi 79° | Lo 58°

Padded helmet helps UMass football players to limit head injuries

  • MATT VAUTOUR<br/>Tajae Sharpe, of the University of Massachusetts holds a Guardian Cap, which is a padding that is attached to the outside of a football helmet that helps to prevent head injuries.

    MATT VAUTOUR
    Tajae Sharpe, of the University of Massachusetts holds a Guardian Cap, which is a padding that is attached to the outside of a football helmet that helps to prevent head injuries. Purchase photo reprints »

  • MATT VAUTOUR<br/>Tajae Sharpe, of the University of Massachusetts holds a Guardian Cap, which is a padding that is attached to the outside of a football helmet that helps to prevent head injuries.

    MATT VAUTOUR
    Tajae Sharpe, of the University of Massachusetts holds a Guardian Cap, which is a padding that is attached to the outside of a football helmet that helps to prevent head injuries. Purchase photo reprints »

  • MATT VAUTOUR<br/>Tajae Sharpe, of the University of Massachusetts holds a Guardian Cap, which is a padding that is attached to the outside of a football helmet that helps to prevent head injuries.
  • MATT VAUTOUR<br/>Tajae Sharpe, of the University of Massachusetts holds a Guardian Cap, which is a padding that is attached to the outside of a football helmet that helps to prevent head injuries.

AMHERST — They look like helmets aliens might wear in an old science fiction movie.

But the Guardian Caps, the odd-looking padding that several University of Massachusetts football players have been wearing over their helmets during spring practice, seem effective so far at helping to limit concussions.

The cap, which is attached to a normal football helmet, provides additional padding arranged in different areas on the outside of the helmet. Unlike with the smooth surface of a normal helmet, contact with a Guardian Cap redistributes the blow of contact either initiated or received by a player’s head.

UMass had several players miss time with concussions a year ago, most notably quarterback Kellen Pagel, who was expected to be the starter but never played because of concussion woes. According to Jenn Brodeur, the head trainer of the football program, coach Charley Molnar has given her the freedom to explore options to help players limit future head injuries.

“Our theory is we’ll try everything that’s out there. If it helps, great, if it doesn’t we’ll find the next thing,” Brodeur said. “They seem to be working. The guys like them.”

The Guardian Cap is a new product from POC Ventures which “is a technology and material sciences company that does development for the military and other commercial businesses.”

“The theory behind them is they dissipate the force. When you get hit, you don’t get that giant blow to one area,” Brodeur said. “It dissipates the force over the whole helmet which will lessen the blow to the head.”

Molnar said addressing head injuries has been a priority.

“We’ve attacked concussion prevention. We’re probably one of the most proactive teams in college football in the way that we’ve done it,” he said. “You’re never going to prevent them, but you can reduce the severity of them by doing some things on the front end. We might be the only team in I-A football using them. We’re using them on a trial basis right now. Over time we’ll purchase more of them if we feel like we’ve been successful.”

Not every player is wearing one at practice.

“The idea is, with guys that had the preexisting injury, let’s limit the contact as much as we can,” Brodeur said. “We’re going to put them on the offensive line preventatively even for guys that haven’t had (concussions) as an additional thing.”

Freshman wide receiver Tajae Sharpe praised the product.

“It does help with the impact. It has a lot of cushioning on top,” Sharpe said. “It helps out a lot of you get hit in the head.”

UMass is using more than just the Guardian Caps. The team has added additional protection made of Kevlar inside the helmets, the same material used by military and law enforcement for body armor.

“We have different mouth guards we’re using with different guys. Being able to individualize it helps a lot. You can’t treat all 100 guys the same way,” Brodeur said. “Some are more susceptible to some things. If there are things we can do physiologically and things we can do equipment-wise, we might as well do it all. Coach is letting me try anything I want to try.”

FOOD AND CLOTHING DRIVE — UMass will be collecting food and clothing for the Amherst Survival Center and toiletries for the Northampton Veterans Administration Hospital at Saturday’s spring football game. The donation area will be located outside the stadium entrance on the South end zone side of the facility.

According to UMass: “Fans who wish to donate goods are encouraged to bring non-perishable food items or any type of gently-used in-season clothing (men’s, women’s and children’s). Toiletries to be donated to the Veterans Hospital include tooth paste, shampoo, soap and other similar items.”

Matt Vautour can be reached at mvautour@gazettenet.com. Follow UMass coverage on Twitter at @GazetteUMass. Get UMass coverage delivered in your Facebook news feed at www.facebook.com/GazetteUMassCoverage.

There are no comments yet. Be the first!
Post a Comment

You must be registered to comment on stories. Click here to register.