Polymer/Composite Devices for Sports Injury Prevention
Type of DegreeMaster's Thesis
Polymer and Fiber Engineering
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For the safety and well being of all athletes in a high contact sport, it is in the athletes’ best interest for those responsible to constantly be looking for ways to improve safety equipment such as helmets and padding. Today one of the biggest needs in player safety, especially in football, is to prevent concussions. The governing leagues of football have put sanctions and rules in place for extremely dangerous hits, but that does not prevent them from actually happening. The best countermeasure would be to improve the helmet. The purpose of this research project is to develop a new material for use in helmets to replace the current padding systems. The material produced for this research is a modification of a previous design that was used for an energy absorption layer in ballistic armors. The original material was a nonwoven fabric that is composed of aramid fibers and ultra high molecular weight polyethylene fibers. As a part of this project we are looking into new methods to manufacture a similar fabric and yield the same characteristics in a simpler process. After a new fabric has been produced, it will undergo testing in a football helmet that simulates a concussive blow to the head. This testing will be used to compare the new padding material to current padding systems. If this project is a success in creating a better padding system, then today’s players as well as future players will be better protected against concussions, and possibly have less medical problems from head injuries as they age.