Will your football player's helmet pass the safety test? - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Will your football player's helmet pass the safety test?

(WMC-TV) - With all the pageantry of the Olympics comes the pressure to perform. And a sports injury can do more than dash an athlete's dream of gold.

Protecting athletes from head injuries is top of mind for Mid-South parents and coaches as we head into football season.

The hits are constant in football. But how hard are they? And are the kids really protected?

Virginia Tech's Stefan Duma made it his mission to know which helmets are working and which are not.

"We tested every helmet that was publicly available," he said. "You can feel the difference."

Duma performs helmet tests in a high tech lab at Virginia Tech.

He bought every helmet on the market at random so no manufacturers could doctor them.

And for more than one year, he strapped them to the head of a dummy and dropped them from different heights creating the country's first "every football helmet" rating system.

"The helmet is kind of the third layer of protection. You've got to coach well, you've got to enforce the rules and then there's the helmet," said Duma.

This year, there are three helmets rated five stars. Five stars is the best rating available according to the test.

The Riddle 360 tops the list. It was also the most expensive helmet tested at almost $375.

The Rawlings Quantum Plus helmet came in second place followed by the Riddell Revolution Speed.

Seven more helmets got four stars, which also means they are recommended for use.

"We're seeing a shift in better products, better protection so if you look at the number of four and five star helmets as manufacturers make better helmets that overall is going to reduce the number of concussions," said Duma.

Even though the most expensive helmet came out on top of the list, that is not the case all of the time. Several expensive helmets rated lower in these tests.

To see the 2012 helmet ratings, click here.

Copyright 2012 WMC-TV. All rights reserved.

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