September 11, 2018 10:49 pm

Wednesday, We Investigate Concussions, Helmets, and Protecting Your Dome

On this week’s episode of Playing with Science, we’re discussing a hot button issue that has been at the forefront of contact sport discussion: concussions. Hosts Gary O’Reilly and Chuck Nice focus mostly on football as we interview some of the game’s leading experts in neuroscience and helmet technology to understand how we’re improving the safety of the players on the gridiron.

Image showing normal brain and CTE. Credit: By Boston University Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy [CC BY-SA 4.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons.

Shown: A normal brain on the left, and one suffering from chronic traumatic encephalopathy on the right. Credit: By Boston University Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy [CC BY-SA 4.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons.

As Gary says, we’ll be looking at why things need to happen, what is happening, and where we’re going to go from where we are right now. Up first, Chuck and Gary sit down with Dr. Samuel Browd, Co-Founder and Chief Medical Officer at VICIS and Independent Neurological Consultant to the Seattle Seahawks. Samuel tells us how VICIS came to be and the progress that it has made being implemented onto football fields. You’ll find out more about the technology that goes into making the VICIS Zero1 helmet so revolutionary in bringing more safety to players.

You’ll hear how the VICIS team was able to start from scratch and you’ll also find out how they were inspired by architecture to create a successful system inside the helmet to help dissipate the impact of forces. We discuss the players impact on designing the helmet because, as Samuel says, if it doesn’t look good no one will wear it. Discover more about the “water helmet” idea and learn whether the VICIS team was, or ever will be, inspired by nature.

Next, we hear from Richard Brandt, PhD, physicist and CEO at Sports Science, on what actually goes on inside the head when a concussion takes place. You’ll learn the numbers behind the forceful impact going on every time there’s a collision on the field. Richard also tells us about his own research and prototype helmet that can drastically reduce force exerted on a player’s head.

Lastly, you’ll hear from Dr. Roger Härtl, the official neurosurgeon for the New York Giants. He takes us inside the brain and explains how it reacts to being concussed. You’ll find out why Roger believes in a more holistic approach to solving the concussion problem than merely updating the helmets. He tells us how concussion protocol has evolved over the years. We also hear how the Giants have been at the forefront of concussion research. All that, plus Roger and Gary discuss how far football can go to address the issues without taking away the intrinsic value of the sport.

Please join us tomorrow night for Protecting Your Dome: Concussions & Helmet Technology right here on our website, as well as on our Playing with Science channels on Apple Podcasts, Google Play Music, SoundCloud, Stitcher, and TuneIn. If you’re an All-Access subscriber, you can watch or listen to this episode ad-free.

That’s it for now. Keep Looking Up!
–Ian Mullen

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