3 Football Helmets Designed to Reduce Concussions

Repeated concussions are thought to cause later brain disease

Clinton Portis #26 of the Washington Redskins suffers a concussion on a play against the Atlanta Falcons at the Georgia Dome on November 8, 2009 in Atlanta, Georgia.


Scott Cunningham / Contributor / Getty Images

Concussions have become a huge topic in the National Football League, with some observers going so far as to say they will cause the end of the game of football as we know it. A study by Boston University showed that out of 94 deceased former NFL players, the brains of 90 showed evidence of brain disease, including chronic traumatic encephalopathy, which is prevalent in people who suffer repeated brain trauma like football players do.

The disease can be diagnosed only after death. Prominent players diagnosed with CTE after their deaths include Ken Stabler, Mike Webster, Frank Gifford, and Junior Seau. The NFL ignored the problem for years and initially settled a billion-dollar lawsuit from former players suffering concussion-related ailments.

Some brain specialists believe young football players are especially susceptible to brain injury that will cause problems as they age. Experts say it's essential to ensure your son or daughter's safety by providing them with the best equipment.

Three helmets—the Riddell Revolution Speed, the Schutt Ion4D, and the Xenith X1—have been touted by their manufacturers as elite products. All three benefit from patented state-of-the-art technology and each offers features to consider when shopping for new helmets. All football helmets for high schools and colleges must meet the guidelines of NOCSAE (National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment).

Xenith X1

The company that markets the Xenith X1 was formed by a former Harvard quarterback who wanted to create a helmet focused on reducing a player's chances of suffering a concussion. The X1 looks like a traditional football helmet, but that's where the similarity ends. The patented Shock Bonnet inside the helmet shell instantly adjusts to fit a player's head. 

Another innovation involves the chin strap, which connects to a cable woven around the Shock Bonnet. The cable tightens and assists in creating a snug fit. The shape of the air flow vents on the helmet’s shell provides a front-to-back cooling effect. Xenith faceguards are made of carbon steel. The company provides online tutorials to help equipment personnel become familiar with the helmet’s components.

Schutt Ion4D

The sleek look of the Schutt Ion4D will generate interest from players submitting an equipment wish list to head coaches. A prominent feature of the Ion4D is the Schutt Energy Wedge faceguard system, integrating the face guard into the helmet shell. Schutt claims this design makes it stronger and more durable than classic faceguards. The Quarter-Turn Release system makes it easier to attach and detach the face guards, which are made of strong but light titanium.

The Ion4D has the Surefit Airliner, a two-piece liner with two inflation points, to provide a custom fit. A lock and loop attachment system locks the inflation valves in place, which helps keep the liner valves and helmet shell aligned.

The Quarter-Turn Release system on the Ion4D requires the purchase of helmet-specific replacement hardware.

Riddell Revolution Speed

Riddell, which boasts its patented Concussion Reduction Technology, offers the Revolution Speed. A primary feature of the helmet is the Revo Speed Quick Release face guard system, which cuts in half the removal time of the cage compared with the usual cage attachment design. This allows for quicker response time by team doctors and trainers in the case of on-field injury. A removable moisture-wicking antimicrobial overliner is Riddell’s answer to concerns of bacterial growth inside football helmets.

The inflatable areas in the back, neck, side liner and crown liner of the helmet provide a comfortable fit for players. With numerous inflation points, players and equipment personnel must learn to check for proper fit on a regular basis.