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By Dan Di Sciullo
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Amid the fanfare and excitement of All- Star weekend a potentially groundbreaking development in the world of professional hockey earned few headlines.
Concussions are an epidemic in today's NHL and although teams and players are becoming more and more vigilant regarding head injuries, it still seems like the league is behind the curve. That is hopefully about to change with the recent introduction of a new helmet developed by Bauer Performance Sports Ltd.
Bauer claims that its RE-AKT helmet, which has been in development for over two years, has been designed with new technology aimed at lessening the impact of blows to the head, which are a leading cause of concussions.
Claude Giroux of the Philadelphia Flyers and Steven Stamkos of the Tampa Bay Lightning -- two of the NHL's brightest young stars -- wore the helmet at All- Star weekend in Ottawa and both are hopeful that the latest technology in equipment can help in the sport's fight against head injuries.
Giroux actually began wearing the RE-AKT helmet in a few regular-season games leading up to the All-Star break, and unlike Stamkos, the Flyers star center has personal experience with concussions. He missed four games in December with a head injury and Giroux is hoping his new piece of equipment will lessen his chances of suffering serious head injuries in the future.
"Head injuries are a serious aspect of our sport right now and as a player, you want to be protected as much as possible," Giroux said in a press release for Bauer. "No helmet is going to completely prevent concussions, but helmets like this one are providing an added level of protection which is important in today's game."
The RE-AKT helmet's main improvement over existing headgear is its patent- pending SUSPEND-TECH liner, which is designed to "protect the head from excessive rotational acceleration when the helmet is impacted." The liner is made of an extremely pliable material that allows it to move independently from the rest of the helmet.
The goal of Bauer's new helmet is to lessen the effects of rotational-force impact, which is thought to be the leading cause of concussions and the biggest factor in the severity of head injuries. Basically, the SUSPEND-TECH liner rotates itself when impacted and Bauer expects that will cause the brain to move less inside the skull. Before the RE-AKT model, helmets were designed only to address linear impact.
"The helmet is very comfortable, fits well and by looking inside of it, you can tell there?s technology in the RE-AKT helmet that isn't in other helmets," said Giroux.
There is still so much about the brain that science has yet to figure out, so it's unlikely that the RE-AKT helmet will be the final answer in combating concussions but it seems like a good start.
When talking about concussions, the hockey world usually tries to determine what rule changes could help curb head injuries, but it makes more sense that better equipment will actually hold the key to fixing the epidemic.
Bauer has come up with the best equipment solution so far, but for the sake of a sport that has been plagued by concussions let's all hope the RE-AKT is just the beginning of a renaissance in helmet technology.
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