GEORGETOWN, Ohio - The sound that reverberates from one side of a stadium to the other during Sunday night football or any high school’s Friday night lights, is thick plastic helmets crashing into each other. Crashing that could cause serious injury or even death.
"Every mother, most of them when their sons say they want to play football, in the back of their mind, they don't want them to get hurt," said Tom Dyer, a senior at Southern Hills Career and Technical Center.
He, along with fellow high school seniors in the Sports Medicine program, Tom Ramsey and Dexter Fitzpatrick, weren’t just thinking outside the box... They were thinking inside the helmet.
With an invention they started in class at Southern Hills, they brought “Science to the playing field,” in an effort to prevent injuries and save lives.
It started when they were thinking of this semester’s project. With a hard hat they batted back and forth at their workstation, Fitzpatrick said, ‘Let’s make a new football helmet.”
One idea led to another and another and until they drew their first sketch. They continued adding elements to the helmet’s inside that would make it safer, more cushioned for its athletes upon impact.
The current padding in helmets is hard with very little give.
"That's really stiff," said Dyer, punching the piece of plastic.
He pressed down on the padding they are using in their prototype—soft, cushioned memory foam.
Molded to fit each football player, Dyer said, the lining inside would absorb more of the impact, with an air pocket, gel molding, foam padding and a suspension system, much like a construction hard hat.
"To keep the helmet off the top of the head and [give] room for the head and the helmet to smoosh together, but not collide together, which will reduce the direct impact on the skull. In theory, [it] would reduce concussions," said Dyer, as he tried on the helmet to demonstrate.
"If you've watched football games you've seen people get tackled and their helmets spin around or fly off, this should reduce that."
They've been working on the helmet for two months, winning their school's showcase competition. But honors aside, their priority in sports medicine and this project is prevention, said Dyer.
"With prevention you have less injuries, the safer sports are, the more fun people have and the less risk there is involved with it."
"I try to challenge my students to think at a higher level," said Greg Himes, Southern Hills’ Sports Medicine teacher.
That level could be manufacturing the helmet for football games from peewee to NFL.
While they finish up the first prototype, they said that they are also working on the application for a patent and what it takes test their helmets.
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