Magnetic repulsion suggested as possible means to reduce concussions in football

American football
Credit: BalticHurricanes/Wikipedia

(Medical Xpress)—Neuroscientist Raymond Colello has been testing the idea of reducing concussions in American football by placing small magnets in helmets to produce a repulsive force between two players. He presented his ideas at this past week's annual Society for Neuroscience meeting.

Colello contends that most concussions that occur during a football game happen because of head-to-head collisions between players. Instead of trying to reduce the damage that occurs because of such collisions, he is trying to reduce the degree of impact. He believes that embedding magnets in helmets to cause a repulsive force as helmets from two different players move close together prior to contact, would reduce the degree of impact on the player, and thus reduce the likelihood of a concussion.

Colello has been testing the idea, he's dropped objects with neodymium magnets on them in a lab and onto a surface below outfitted with same pole-faced magnets at distances ranging from four feet to just six inches—impacts that would reasonably simulate what a football player might experience. He reports that two magnets set face to face exert approximately 100 pounds of repulsive force and that a helmet dropped from 48 inches would typically generate 120 g's of force. With the magnets in place, that force drops below 100 g's, enough to mean the difference between non-injury and .

While it does appear possible that such an outfitted helmet would benefit linesmen, and perhaps runners and receives, it's unlikely it would add much benefit for quarterbacks as they typically sustain concussions due to low tackling from behind, which causes their head to ratchet back, hitting the ground really hard.

Colello points out that that adding magnets to would raise the price of the helmet from $50 to $100, depending on the size of the players and would add approximately a third of a pound of weight. He notes also that he doesn't believe the magnets would cause harm to , as a typical MRI scan exposures people to 10 to 30 times as much magnetism—and doesn't appear to cause any harm. He plans to continue his study, noting that he's ordered magnets that will fit in a helmet and will be testing them on the heads of crash test dummies made to move via a zipline.


Explore further

New study finds differences in concussion risk between football helmets

More information: Utilizing magnetic repulsion to reduce forces generated at helmet-to-helmet collisions in football, Neuroscience 2014 meeting, www.abstractsonline.com/Plan/V … 9-afaa-502c0e680ca7#

© 2014 Medical Xpress

Citation: Magnetic repulsion suggested as possible means to reduce concussions in football (2014, November 17) retrieved 22 October 2019 from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2014-11-magnetic-repulsion-concussions-football.html
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.
27 shares

Feedback to editors

User comments

Nov 17, 2014
would typically generate 120 g's of force.


G is not force, it's acceleration. It becomes force when mass is added to the equation.

Which makes the whole thing bunk. Dropping empty helmets on a magnet isn't representative of a situation when someone is butting head against yours with the full force of their body.

Besides, a 1/3 pound neodymium magnet capable of creating a 100 pound repulsive force is dangerous in and of itself. If someone's magnet comes loose, it can flip around and slam against your helmet like a bullet because the same 100 pound repulsion becomes attraction. Then there's also all sorts of little metal objects that can start flying at your face.

Nov 17, 2014
I dunno, sounds kind of ingenious to me: reduce peak delta-v (satisfied, Eikka?) by beginning to apply a repulsive force some distance from the point of impact.

Of course, the big lugs will just hit each other that much harder.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more