The secret is out: concussions in contact sports (notably football, boxing and hockey) can be career-ending, memory-erasing and even death-dealing. The National Football League’s multimillion dollar settlement with former football players with long-term damage from concussions is one sign of the times. According to Textiles Intelligence (Issue No 46 of Performance Apparel Markets), it is also a sign that manufacturers of helmets who have been resistant to change may miss out on the predicted leading factor in future growth in the sports gear market. Companies positioned to ride the rising tide of concern about sports head injuries include:
- MIPS AB, which developed the Multi-directional Impact Protection System (MIPS), with a helmet shell and liner separated by a low friction layer that allows the main components to rotate (and absorb rotational acceleration) during an oblique impact. Applications for MIPS include helmets for horseback riding, cycling and extreme sports.
- Phillips Helmet’s Phillips Head Protection System (PHPS) has a lubricated flexible membrane over the outside of the helmet that can reduce rotational force on the brain by more than 60 percent in the milliseconds following a head impact. A Belgium-based motorcycle helmet manufacturer, Lazer, is using the technology in its SuperSkin helmets.
- Reebok has worked with MC10, a technology company, to develop the CheckLight sports cap, which can detect when an athlete has sustained a serious blow to the head.
- Adidas had worked with Ayrtek on cricket helmets that incorporate a patented Air Cushion Impact System (ACIS) liner that allows the wearer to custom fit the helmet by using an air pump or air-release valve.