Unequal Technologies, located in Glen Mills, PA, introduced their new HALO headgear last week at the National Soccer Coaches Association of America Convention that was held at the Pennsylvania Convention Center. Through their work providing customized, concealed sports protection using military grade composite fortified with Kevlar and Accelleron as head padding for helmets, they have now discovered a solution to help significantly reduce the risk of concussions for soccer players as well.
"Concussions are the injury of our age. Youth, high school, collegiate and professional soccer players are at risk of sustaining a concussion at a rate that is quite alarming. With our experience in developing protective solutions for our armed forces, law enforcement and governmental agencies as well as impact sports, using our technology to help protect soccer players is a natural. The fact is, whether its headers, head-to-head collisions, head-to-ground falls or goalpost crashes, Unequal protects," said Rob Vito, CEO and inventor of Unequal.
What makes this new headgear battle-ready is its patented, military-grade composite fortified with Kevlar and Accelleron that absorbs and disperses impact forces away from the head in a way typical foams of equal weight and thickness can't.
"Kevlar is in bulletproof vests for a reason. That was our 'aha' moment," said Jim Caldwell, executive vice president of creative development and media for Unequal Technologies. "It really was a process of discovery through many years and millions of dollars to see how this military grade composite works across different applications."
The new HALO headgear has gone through laboratory testing by accredited laboratories, OEM facilities and universities.
Dr. Joseph Maroon, a professional football team neurosurgeon based in Pittsburgh, member of the National Football League's Head, Neck and Spine Committee and co-developer of ImPACT, the world-wide standard tool for assessing sports-related concussions, was among the neurosurgeons who evaluated Unequal protective padding, and this is what he had to say: "One of the major predictors of the risk of concussion is acceleration, and a product's ability to reduce it at impact. Tests performed in accordance with ASTM test standards, and also recognized by FIFA, show that both the severity index and peak acceleration using Unequal padding are significantly lower than that of the head form alone. In my professional opinion, wearing the Unequal headband predicts a significantly lower risk of concussions as compared to the head alone."
Of course, real-time application on the field is also important so Unequal took their new headgear out onto the playing field.
"The players said that the hits feel different and that they don't come away hurt or with a headache," said Caldwell. "Kids play with more confidence when wearing it and play at the level that the coaches want them to play."
He also explained that they offer a thicker version of the headgear for those players more at risk for a concussion.
"While there is much focus on the recognition, detection and treatment and return to play protocol of concussions, we are placing ourselves out front of concussions with technology that helps reduce impact energy before it gets to the head so that kids can enjoy the sport and parents can have peace of mind," he said.
When designing this gear specifically for soccer players, Caldwell said that besides the essential ingredient of the composite there were other factors they had to take into consideration. "Soccer players are also looking for comfort, aesthetics, and functionality. For instance the width of the band, the ease of attachment, and how it contours to the head are also important."
"We tried to make them fashion-centric with plenty of color choices for the girls who tend to be more prone to concussions," he added.
Fully adjustable Unequal Halo Headgear comes in many colors, features both 6 and 10mm thicknesses. For more information, visit unequal.com.