Impact response of US Army and National Football League helmet pad systems

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Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory [LLNL] was tasked to compare the impact response of NFL helmet pad systems and U.S. Army pad systems compatible with an Advanced Combat Helmet [ACH] at impact velocities up to 20 ft/s. This was a one-year study funded by the U.S. Army and JIEDDO. The Army/JIEDDO point of contact is COL R. Todd Dombroski, DO, JIEDDO Surgeon. LLNL was chosen by committee to perform the research based on prior published computational studies of the mechanical response of helmets and skulls to blast. Our collaborators include the U.S. Army Aeromedical Research Laboratory [USAARL] (a DoD laboratory responsible ... continued below

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PDF-file: 59 pages; size: 6.4 Mbytes

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Moss, W C & King, M J February 18, 2011.

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Description

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory [LLNL] was tasked to compare the impact response of NFL helmet pad systems and U.S. Army pad systems compatible with an Advanced Combat Helmet [ACH] at impact velocities up to 20 ft/s. This was a one-year study funded by the U.S. Army and JIEDDO. The Army/JIEDDO point of contact is COL R. Todd Dombroski, DO, JIEDDO Surgeon. LLNL was chosen by committee to perform the research based on prior published computational studies of the mechanical response of helmets and skulls to blast. Our collaborators include the U.S. Army Aeromedical Research Laboratory [USAARL] (a DoD laboratory responsible for impact testing helmets), Team Wendy and Oregon Aero (current and former ACH pad manufacturers), Riddell and Xenith (NFL pad manufacturers), and d3o (general purpose sports pad manufacturer). The manufacturer-supplied pad systems that were studied are shown in the figure below. The first two are the Army systems, which are bilayer foam pads with both hard and soft foam and a water-resistant airtight wrapper (Team Wendy) or a water-resistant airtight coating (Oregon Aero). The next two are NFL pad systems. The Xenith system consists of a thin foam pad and a hollow air-filled cylinder that elastically buckles under load. The Riddell system is a bilayer foam pad that is encased in an inflatable airbag with relief channels to neighboring pads in the helmet. The inflatable airbag is for comfort and provides no enhancement to impact mitigation. The d3o system consists of a rate-sensitive homogeneous dense foam. LLNL performed experiments to characterize the material properties of the individual foam materials and the response of the complete pad systems, to obtain parameters needed for the simulations. LLNL also performed X-ray CT scans of an ACH helmet shell that were used to construct a geometrically accurate computational model of the helmet. Two complementary sets of simulations were performed. The first set of simulations reproduced the experimental helmet impact certification tests performed by USAARL, who provided data for comparison. The goal of this set of simulations was to demonstrate the overall validity of LLNL's computational analyses and methods and understand the general physics of helmet impacts. In these tests and the corresponding simulations, an inverted ACH containing pads and a head-form are dropped onto a hemispherical anvil, at 10 and 14.14 ft/s impact velocities. The simulations predicted peak accelerations (the metric used by USAARL for comparing the performance of pad systems), rebound velocities, and impact durations consistent with the experimental data, thus demonstrating the validity and relevance of the simulation methods. Because the NFL pad systems are approximately double the thickness of the U.S. Army pads, they do not fit into the ACH. As a result, the NFL pads could not be simply placed into an ACH shell in either a simulation or an experiment without modifying their size and shape. Since impact mitigation depends critically on the available stopping distance and the area over which the stopping force is applied, it is important to consider identically shaped pads in order to compare their performance in a fair and meaningful manner. Consequently, the second set of simulations utilized a simplified simulation geometry consisting of a 5 kg cylindrical impactor (equal in mass to a head) striking equally sized pads from each manufacturer. The simulated bilayer foam pads had the same proportions of hard and soft foam as the actual pad systems, while the Xenith pads were simulated as a bilayer foam pad with material properties adjusted to give the same response as the actual Xenith pads. The effects of trapped air were included in the simulations of the Team Wendy and Oregon Aero pads. All simulations used material properties derived from the experiments conducted at LLNL. The acceleration history of the center of mass of the impactor was used to calculate the Head Injury Criterion (HIC) for each simulation, to assess the pad performance. The HIC is a well-established metric that combines both acceleration and duration of impact to assess the danger of injury, and is a more robust measure than peak acceleration. Our key findings are: (1) The performance of a pad depends on the range of impact velocities. At lower impact velocity, softer pads perform better. At higher impact velocity, harder pads perform better; (2) Thicker pads perform better at all velocities, but especially at high velocities; and (3) For comparable thicknesses, neither the NFL systems nor the Oregon Aero pads outperform the Team Wendy pads currently used in the ACH system in militarily-relevant impact scenarios (impact speeds less than 20 ft/s). The second finding suggests a commercial off-the-shelf solution for mitigating impact-related traumatic brain injury to soldiers.

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PDF-file: 59 pages; size: 6.4 Mbytes

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  • Report No.: LLNL-SR-471496
  • Grant Number: W-7405-ENG-48
  • DOI: 10.2172/1021058 | External Link
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 1021058
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc841271

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  • February 18, 2011

Added to The UNT Digital Library

  • May 19, 2016, 3:16 p.m.

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  • Nov. 29, 2016, 2:14 p.m.

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Moss, W C & King, M J. Impact response of US Army and National Football League helmet pad systems, report, February 18, 2011; Livermore, California. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc841271/: accessed November 24, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.