A team of researchers at Clemson University is conducting a study to see if a better facemask design could lower brain injuries on the football field.
They say face masks are largely understudied even though they are often the first point of contact in an impact.
Combining fields of packaging science and bioengineering, their goal is to understand how face masks could better absorb energy, and then eventually help improve their design.
This is the 6th year for the study and researchers say the answer could be a softer face mask that could absorb energy from a hit.
“Maybe we need a softer face mask,” Dr. Gregory Batt, Assistant Professor of Food and Nutrition Packaging Science, says. “But you got to hold that intention with, and balance with, protecting the face, again…if we can lower that energy input to the brain then yes, it makes sense we could reduce the propensity for concussion.”
They hope their findings will help parents make better decisions about which face masks to buy for their children playing football and will help equipment managers decide when to replace them.
“This test we’ve developed, we believe will give equipment managers a tool to compare performance of face mask at the end of the season,” Batt says.
The Clemson University research team plans to publish more findings from their study in March.