Since 2011, Virginia Tech researchers have been providing unbiased helmet ratings that allow consumers to make informed decisions when purchasing helmets. The helmet ratings are the culmination of over 15 years of research on head impacts in sports and identify which helmets best reduce concussion risk. This work is done as part of Virginia Tech’s service mission and is 100% independent of any funding or influence from helmet manufacturers.
star_rateWhy rate helmets?
All helmets sold must be certified to meet minimum safety requirements set by standards organizations. These standards are evaluated with testing on a pass/fail basis. However, not all helmets are created equal and two helmets that meet the standard may offer different levels of impact protection. The Virginia Tech Helmet Lab supplements these standards with sports-specific impact testing and rates helmets on a 5 star scale. This scale informs consumers on the relative differences of helmet protection in the context of reducing risk of head injury.
star_rateWhat do the helmet ratings mean?
Simply stated, the helmet ratings identify which helmets best reduce concussion risk. More stars equate to better protection, with 5 stars representing the best available helmets. We encourage athletes to choose helmets with 4 or 5 stars.
star_rateHow are ratings determined for helmets?
A helmet's rating is comprised of two components: the STAR score and the number of stars.
STAR stands for the Summation of Tests for the Analysis of Risk, and the STAR score is calculated based on a helmet's performance in a series of impact tests. The impact conditions are sports-specific and inclusive of the broad range of head impacts that athletes are likely to experience. STAR is based on 2 fundamental concepts: 1) tests are weighted based on how often people experience similar impacts and 2) helmets that lower linear and rotational head acceleration reduce injury risk.
A helmet with a lower score offers better protection. STAR scores are assigned a number of stars to categorize impact performance. The number of stars varies between 1-5, with 5 stars being the best.
These methods have been published as peer-reviewed articles in journals such as Annals of Biomedical Engineering.
star_rateWill 5 star helmets prevent me from sustaining concussions?
No helmet is concussion-proof. Any athlete can sustain a head injury, even with the very best head protection. The helmet ratings identify the helmets that best reduce your chances of sustaining a concussion. With that stated, helmets are only one piece of the equation to minimizing concussion risk. Rule changes and coaching proper technique can result in fewer high-risk head impacts, and are perhaps most important. Having the best available head protection for the remaining head impacts further reduces risk.