The NFL's current efforts to fight concussions could be successful. The League announced last week that its concussions had dropped by 29% in 2018, from 190 to 135 this season.
With so many injuries to the head, it is hard to believe that it was not necessary to wear a professional football helmet in the first decade. It is also amazing for a Berkeley neurology specialist that there is no better way to protect players from the type of head injuries that he sees regularly.
That's why Dr. Robert Knight also spends time to crack his head – fake – to test his version of a revolutionary helmet that he and his colleagues have developed.
"The principle is simple: we want to rule out the strength of the skull and our solution is to use a two-shell helmet," said Knight. "It's the fore-brain that absorbs the essence of the problem."
In the field, linemen suffer more blows than others. Research has shown that 44% of them have severe and persistent head injuries, more than double those caused by the short back and the defensive back.
Danny Skuta, 32, an NFL linebacker who played for the Bengals, 49ers and Jaguars, is keeping a close eye on what Knight is doing. Skuta ended his career with a concussion.
"You see that the inner shell is attached, the outer shell moves and moves whether you are touched at the front, back or side.It is omnidirectional and every time it moves, the mechanism the strut that connects the outside to the inner shell absorbs some of that energy … which means less energy for the brain. "
More than that, they are looking at the double-hulled helmet beyond football. Knight offers helmet prototypes for hockey, cycling and baseball.
Helmets are a multi-billion dollar business, but they have not been able to limit the spread of a serious brain disease caused by head trauma. Chronic traumatic encephalopathy was discovered in 87% of the brains of deceased football players.
"The skull was not designed to play football, to play sports, to have car accidents, etc.," Knight said.
Now, with a wall full of patents to manufacture his helmet, and more research and future crash testing, Knight hopes that what he's doing outside of the exam room will make up for that. that he calls a "bad design".
© 2019 CBS Interactive Inc. All rights reserved.