New football helmets tested to keep players safe

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With so much concern over concussions, Good Morning America got an exclusive look inside important helmet testing done in an effort to keep players safe.

With so much concern over concussions, Good Morning America got an exclusive look inside important helmet testing done in an effort to keep players safe.

A hit that left a University of Michigan quarterback stumbling back to the huddle sparked a new furor over football and concussions. Concussions are not just a concern with elite players. Preventing them has become a top priority with anyone sporting a football jersey.

Virginia Tech University, which tracked more than 300,000 impacts on its football team, is the epicenter for research into safer helmets.

They use a simple but critical test in which they lift a football helmet rimmed with sensors six feet into the air and then drop it onto a rubber coated concrete and steel block.

Virginia Tech says its test of football helmets mimics what players can face on the field.

Then it assigns a 1 to 5 star safety rating for each helmet tested

"If a school puts out a call for proposals, it'll say in there -- we are only taking bids for 5-star Virginia Tech rated helmet," said Stefan Duma, M.D., with Virginia Tech.

Good Morning America was in the lab as they tested three new helmets on the market, each boasting new technologies. Two were from SG and one was from Riddell.

The SG helmets are lighter, weighing half as much as other helmets.

"The interesting thing about this helmet," Duma said in reference to the Simpson or SG helmet, "is that the shell is carbon fiber or Kevlar, so it's super light and they use a different padding on the inside."

And one from Riddell, the Speed Flex Helmet, just released this fall.

Duma: "So you see this part right here, it actually deforms."
Reporter: "So theoretically, that's going to help?"
Duma: "That's their claim."

After two straight days of testing, all three helmets tested received a 5-star rating. The helmets they are testing are for kids 14 years and older.

Virginia Tech found that Riddell's new flex design reduced head acceleration better than any helmet they've ever tested.

"We want parents to learn that getting out of the old helmets, getting into the new better helmets, that's gonna reduce your risk," Duma said.

Virginia Tech hopes the work done there to rate and improve helmets will make football a much safer sport.

ABC7 News contributed to this report.
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