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JR Boucicaut

Virginia Tech STAR rating system being developed for hockey helmets

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On 4/29/2019 at 7:18 PM, stick9 said:

1. I can gather a ton of data under the strictest of guidelines and present it manner that appears to be unquestionable. 2. It doesn't mean the data is good or even valid.

3. VT openly admits that their rating system will not prevent the likely hood of suffering a concussion. 4. So why do people put so much faith in it...

1. Sure, you can do that, go ahead. But that's completely different from what the VT STAR ratings are. They are peer-reviewed studies, which is all about test the degree of questionability of not only data, but everything involved in a study: background, procedure, results, theory, etc.

2. Peer-review acts as somewhat of a guard against junk science. Like concussions, there is no absolute guarantee of preventing junk science. The best we can do is develop standards and procedures that do the most to eliminate potential sources of error. In that sense, the VT lab has already been vetted in a certain arena (a quite powerful journal, as it happens), which does mean the data is good and valid to that degree.

3. I think I know what you're saying, but I have to substitute another word for likelihood to make it make sense. There is always a likelihood of sustaining a concussion. That is, there is always a non-zero probability that you will sustain a concussion going about your daily routine. Playing a contact sport increases that risk or likelihood. There is no way to prevent it. The facts of movement and having a brain entail the likelihood of sustaining a concussion.

What I think makes the most sense is, 'VT _ that (helmets that achieve a 4 or 5 star rating according to) their rating system are not guaranteed to prevent concussions,' (indeed, the likelihood of there being cases of concussions in the better rated helmets is high if not absolutely a guarantee).

4. I can't answer that...if it was a question? At least not exhaustively. I think one angle of support for the VT study that I for one am happy to see I'm not alone in taking in this thread, is that I don't so much put faith in it as I see it as a positive development. I think it's great that there's an objective, transparent analysis of the degree of protection afforded by the most important piece of protective equipment in the sport. I'm surprised there aren't more people that welcome that transparency and look ahead to when further dialogue in the vein of the VT STAR system can help produce helmets that have scientifically analyzed and vetted design principles.

This makes me wonder, are the helmet certification procedures and results available for similar analysis and commentary? If so, that's great, and I wish there would be more cross-comparisons between the VT lab's work and what the prior approaches have been. If not, then we need to have a conversation about what's more dangerous: people buying a helmet because they think they're protected by an oversimplified safety seal (my critique of the VT study, but I do understand marketing is a huge factor in research these days) that is the result of an objective analysis, or people buying the helmet they think looks the coolest and heck, it's certified so it must be good.

I get not wanting to misguide buyers into helmets that don't fit (notice VT says "genetics" will be a significant factor in eventual concussion occurrence--head shape falls under that umbrella somewhat) based on them wanting to pick out the highest rated helmet regardless of anything else. But is it ok to have manufacturers keep pumping out ever more expensive helmets with an ever increasing list of features without the consumer getting some indication of whether or not those design improvements are actually working or not?

@OldTrainerGuy what is a football head form? And how does VT's assessment of rotational impact forces fall short?

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In basic terms, here are my issues

1) I don't believe VT test conditions account for fit. Do they use multiple head dummies or one generic one? A less than optimal fit could lead to a lower score.

2) I don't get the sense their test conditions correlate well to actual game play. Results in a controlled lab are one thing, real on ice studies are another.

3) You don't need to hit your head to be concussed. So all this data is irrelevant at that point. 

4) Safety ratings can give one a false sense of security. "I don't have to worry about head shots, I have a 5 star rated helmet". "How did Billy get a concussion, we bought him a 5 star rated helmet".

 

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This is an interesting discussion. What I am taking away from it is that the VT tests will tell you which helmets provide more protection from certain kinds of impact, such as a puck to the forehead, but there are other significant kinds of injury that are not accounted for. Specifically they do not account for rotational forces which are a major cause of concussion. The danger of the VT tests (as stated by stick9) is that they could give someone a false sense of security, whereas in reality even with the ‘best’ helmet, you really do need to avoid certain situations. 

I’m also quite shocked at the levels of brain injury in hockey, something I had previously only associated with boxing, a sport that I abhore for its brutality. Is it right to subject athletes to life changing injuries in the name of entertainment? 

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5 hours ago, flip12 said:

 

@OldTrainerGuy what is a football head form? And how does VT's assessment of rotational impact forces fall short?

The VT study used the head forms used in testing football helmets. The head forms used for hockey helmets are a different construction and mount different.  The helmet on the head form. Also VT used a "fake neck" that is from another style of study. So basically piecing together what they felt could work to make it seem like a real world test. Because the head forms were different and not made to suit hockey helmets I find it very hard to take any data from this study. 

The CSA and Hecc both tried to work with and offer there expertise but VT turned then down as they did to all he manufactures that offered to show them how they test for both CSA and Hecc. 

If VT took there information and then proceeded to make up there test using the same hockey head forms and a  neck that fit he head form then I would have much .ore faith in this study.  And I can tell you CSS would gladly alter there testing to include some of the facets  of the CSA/HECC testing. Not saying it's perfect but I can tell you we spend hours discussing every detail we can to make things safer. 

 

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4 hours ago, stick9 said:

In basic terms, here are my issues

1) I don't believe VT test conditions account for fit. Do they use multiple head dummies or one generic one? A less than optimal fit could lead to a lower score.

2) I don't get the sense their test conditions correlate well to actual game play. Results in a controlled lab are one thing, real on ice studies are another.

3) You don't need to hit your head to be concussed. So all this data is irrelevant at that point. 

4) Safety ratings can give one a false sense of security. "I don't have to worry about head shots, I have a 5 star rated helmet". "How did Billy get a concussion, we bought him a 5 star rated helmet".

 

1) What data has validated the ideal fit?  Should a helmet fit the same everywhere and make contact at the temples the same as the back and forehead?  Who says slight fit variation is a sufficiently contributing factor?

2) All research, especially those involving possible harm to humans start on a bench.  It is easier to isolate variables and build the data set.  Do you know how many subjects would have to participate in random on-ice testing and how much instrumentation would be required to account for all the variables that needed to be captured to make accurate conclusions?  Not to mention the ethical issues involved in any kind of study like this.

3) The lack of logic of this statement requires no response.

4) Psychology permeates everything, but again, have you data to show this?  One could then argue that without safety ratings cost would just lead to the same conclusion, as the safety is implied by the cost of the helmet.

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1 hour ago, chippa13 said:

"These go to 11."

Plenty of that to go around.

The great thing about the internet is there is never a shortage of people demanding you back your opinion with facts and data.

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Howdy,

It would be really interesting to see how VT's results changed as a function of fit.  Seems like it would be fairly easy for them to test as well, since helmets are adjustable.

I don't know what would happen.  I can convince myself either way.  🙂  I'm not convinced that fit is as important as some here think it is (in terms of protection... Obviously its important in terms of comfort and distraction).  But I'm not convinced its not either.

Mark

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3 hours ago, stick9 said:

Plenty of that to go around.

The great thing about the internet is there is never a shortage of people demanding you back your opinion with facts and data.

Most likely because on the internet there is never a shortage of people giving opinions about things they don’t really understand.

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9 hours ago, BenBreeg said:

Most likely because on the internet there is never a shortage of people giving opinions about things they don’t really understand.

Not sure if you're trying to be a d**k or not, but that's twice now.

Here's the thing. Do you data whores actually understand the cost and complexity involved in supporting an opinion counter to that of VT's? Seriously, you ask for data knowing the chances of someone here having the means to provide that data is slim. The data you are providing is not even your own. It's the easy side of the argument bucause you don't need to prove shit. You can point to someone's elses work and say "see they did it". Lazy ass engineering.

Many professionals question VT's results yet you (and others) are arguing it like it's law. Which I find comical seeing how they can't actually say helmet X reduces concussions. In their words, not mine...

 "Helmets with more stars provide a reduction in concussion risk compared to helmets with less stars."

So all this BS and all they are doing is reducing risk. They aren't preventing shit.

FWIW, if someone questions the results of a test and the manner in which those results were achieved. You can't use said results to make your point. Those very results are what's in question. 

Edited by stick9

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Not trying to be a d@*k, addressing the arguments.  The approach to risk of all type is reduction, not absolute precention because that is a hard if not impossible standard to demonstrate. 

Their methods and conclusions may be BS, but just because some qualified people disagree doesn’t make that fact either.  There is often disagreement in methodology and interpretation of results by intelligent people on both sides.

As for the “data whores”...  you are veering off the argument and making it personal but more importantly, this is a data driven argument.  So it is just natural for some of us who may operate in areas that deal with the engineering and risk to follow the same logic conversations in our domains would, and that is to require validation of assumptions.

It is not meant to be personal but if it came across that way I apologize and am going to bow out of this thread so that we can preserve a positive atmosphere on this board.

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It is a data driven argument but the data itself was poorly derived.

I know I should have left it alone but I couldn't help myself. Its just that when someone with qualified experience in the area points that the testing is flawed and yet people still cling to the data collected from those same flawed tests (even while accepting the testing is flawed) it just makes no sense to me.

 

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It doesn’t have to be a black and white discussion you know? I’m convinced the VT results have value, but as pointed out earlier, they also have serious failings. Once you recognise the limitations, you can then take them for what they are. One valid criticism IMO is that VT over egg their conclusions. 

In practice hockey is potentially dangerous, as are skiing and parachuting. You either mitigate those  risks, or do something else. 

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6 hours ago, stick9 said:

Here's the thing. Do you data whores actually understand the cost and complexity involved in supporting an opinion counter to that of VT's? Seriously, you ask for data knowing the chances of someone here having the means to provide that data is slim. The data you are providing is not even your own. It's the easy side of the argument bucause you don't need to prove shit. You can point to someone's elses work and say "see they did it". Lazy ass engineering.

Many professionals question VT's results yet you (and others) are arguing it like it's law. Which I find comical seeing how they can't actually say helmet X reduces concussions. In their words, not mine...

 "Helmets with more stars provide a reduction in concussion risk compared to helmets with less stars."

So all this BS and all they are doing is reducing risk. They aren't preventing shit.

FWIW, if someone questions the results of a test and the manner in which those results were achieved. You can't use said results to make your point. Those very results are what's in question. 

Who asked you for data? I asked you for an opinion based on a close reading of the test's writeup rather than a critique that basically amounts to "this data must be garbage because if it isn't then I can't believe the marketing that says this new and improved helmet design is really new and improved, because features!" That's not an argument that gets you very far. It should be clear that companies have their own interests first, which entails marketing everything as an improvement. Without data, how can we assess if there is any improvement or even a consistent level of performance? A pass/fail test doesn't help there.

A lot of people in this thread have attacked the VT study's data without understanding what the data even is. People want to hate this effort but for reasons that aren't really accurate. That makes me wonder if there's retaliation because other interests are feeling threatened and we end up hearing propaganda that isn't an accurate depiction of what the STAR rating system is. It isn't without its flaws, but a lot of the supposed flaws are non-existent or were applicable to earlier iterations but have been improved on since the first STAR rating results; rotational impact being the biggie.

I don't see @BenBreeg arguing that the STAR system is law, but rather that it's a step towards a better idea of the complicated assessment of risk when it comes to head injuries. That's the problem with research--it's not really as cut and clean as it's often presented in the pop press, and that pop aspect is meant to feed consumers the food for thought that they want. The 1-5 stars are a shrewd way to play it both ways, but I'll maintain that that has upsides and downsides.

@stick9 you should go back and carefully reread what comments you're replying to because they are full of misapprehensions.

@OldTrainerGuy, what's the downside of using a football headform? How is a football headform not suited for a hockey helmet? It would seem both would be abstract representations of average human heads and football helmets and hockey helmets are meant to actually protect the same actual heads in practice. Is there a response from HECC and CSA explaining their misgivings with STAR? I'm not sure if I missed it before, but what about the VT lab's analysis of rotational impact is seen as insufficient to test for rotational impact by the certification boards you're familiar with?

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I hate this thread, and I hate that I have something relevant to post.

Here's a vid of the tests at Virginia Tech.

 

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