NFL charities award UNH professor research grant
Published: Monday, September 17, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, February 13, 2013 15:02
In light of recent investigations into the effects of head and other types of injuries on football players, UNH Associate Professor of Kinesiology Erik Swartz is researching the safest types of equipment that will not only keep football players safe on the field, but in the event of an injury, will allow the players to be treated quickly and easily.
Swartz, who has been studying the safety of removing football equipment for about 11 years, was recently awarded $62,000 from NFL charities in August to continue his research.
According to Swartz, when a player is injured, the helmet, facemask and shoulder pads can act as barriers to the player’s airway and chest, which means that it can take longer to start treatment. While he recognizes that safety gear in football may always constrict the airways and the chest when a player is injured, Swartz is looking to find a quick way to render aid that doesn’t require the wounded player to move too much.
“I don’t have a preference of the type of equipment the players are using, but I would like for their equipment to be quick-release,” Swartz said.
As part of this study, Swartz has been focusing on newer equipment. He said that a new trend, no longer uses screws to hold a football player’s facemask to his or her helmet. Now, more and more helmets are implementing a spring method instead.
Some of the new helmets are a “half screw,” which means if you screw the facemask on halfway, it will pop off, which makes removing a facemask a lot faster. With faster removal, there is faster treatment to the injured athlete.
There is also a new shoulder pad out called the RipKord. Because it is a brand new type of equipment, many teams don’t use it yet. However, Swartz believes that it will be seen more within the next year. The difference between the RipKord shoulder pad and the original shoulder pad is that the RipKord has the ability to be taken off in two pieces. This not only makes the removal faster, but it causes less motion to the injured player because it no longer has to taken off over the player’s head. Instead, the shoulder pads will slide down both of the player’s arms.
Swartz’s grant is going to help cover the expenses of lab time at WakeMed Health and Hospitals in Raleigh, N.C. This is a simulation lab that uses mannequins dressed in football equipment. The mannequins are programmed to move like football players and will serve as more of a real life example of the research.
Swartz said that while he will not have the opportunity to have UNH students work with him at the simulation lab, he will be working alongside professors and students from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill who are also interested in this research.
Swartz said he hopes to collect all of his data within a year of the grant’s research. He then will have six months to write up all of his data and send it to the NFL.