Revolution helmets

Riddell Revolution helmets are a line of football helmets. The helmet brand is the most popular model in use in the National Football League, used by 83% of the players in the league as of 2008.[1] The most recent model is the Revolution Speedflex helmet. This model can come equipped with Riddell's HITS Technology. This technology consists of a sensor in the helmet that relays data regarding the severity of each hit to a computer system.[2] The Speedflex also features a built-in hinged panel located on the front near the top. In head-on collisions with other players (or the ground), this panel gives by up to a quarter of an inch (6 mm), helping to absorb the impact. Utilizing slots and creating hinged panels within harder durometer plastic helmets was originally the idea behind designer Michael Princip's Bulwark helmet concepts(2011). [3]helmet

The Revolution helmet was conceived in an attempt to reduce the risk of head injuries such as concussions. What research has been done on the helmet so far has been inconclusive.

Injury prevention research

One major study on the helmet’s effectiveness (funded by Riddell) was conducted by the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. The research compared the Revolution helmet with other models. 2,000 high school players participated in the study which took place over the course of three years. Research showed that 5.4% of the athletes wearing the Revolution helmet suffered a concussion during a game as opposed to 7.6% of the players wearing the older model helmets. High school players wearing the Revolution helmet were 31% less likely to experience a concussion.[4] The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center later disavowed these results, citing problems with the design of the study, according to the book and documentary League of Denial.[5] The Federal Trade Commission also conducted an independent investigation into the safety claims made by Riddell. It concluded that "the study did not substantiate Riddell’s claim that Revolution varsity football helmets reduce concussions or the risk of concussion by 31% compared to other varsity football helmets."[6] It also invalidated all claims relating to youth football and the Revolution youth helmet due to the fact that the UPMC study tested neither youth players nor the youth version of the helmet.[6] Despite determining that Riddell falsely represented numerous claims, the FTC chose not to sanction Riddell as the company had already discontinued use of the 31% claim.[7]

Revolution Speed Helmet

The most recent addition to the Revolution series of helmets is the Revolution Speed 360 helmet. This helmet is intended to improve upon older Revolution models in an attempt to create a better defense against concussion.


The helmet is designed around the head’s center of gravity. Since most concussion-causing impacts occur on the side of the head and face, the helmet features mandible extensions. This feature extends the cover of the jaw line. The helmet is lined with a custom fit cellular air pad system. Polyurethane and synthetic rubber foam are also used inside the helmet. The shell of the helmet is made up of a polycarbonate alloy. For the lightest weight, a titanium face guard is attached to the helmet.[8]

Revolution 360 Helmet

Riddell announced that a new model will be available in limited colors and sizes starting in Spring 2011. As of March 23, 2011, a firm date and price have not been announced. The Revolution 360 was first worn in a game by LaMichael James during the 2011 BCS National Championship Game, before the helmet was available to the public. At halftime, James switched back to his Revolution Speed.

HITS technology

Revolution helmets can now come equipped with Head Impact Telemetry Systems or HITS technology. Six accelerometers are placed inside the helmet. The accelerometers measure the force, location and direction of an impact on the helmet. Along with the accelerometers in the helmet are a microprocessor and a radio transmitter. When a player’s head accelerates due to a collision, the acceleration is registered and brought up on a computer. A three-dimensional image of the head will show the location of contact using an arrow. A bar graph is used to indicate the force of the blow.[9] Players and staff can evaluate the collisions using the graph. The analysis may suggest that a player seek medical attention; however, researchers have found that there is no way of being sure which impact might lead to a concussion.[10]


Head injury has always been a serious issue in the game of football. An estimated 5 percent of high school players suffer concussions each year.[11] There is also evidence to suggest that football players are exposed to the kind of brain damage called Chronic traumatic encephalopathy.[12] As a response to the growing concern over head injuries, equipment maker Riddell spent four years developing the original Revolution helmet. The Revolution was a fitting name considering the helmet marked the first significant remodel in 25 years. This helmet was first distributed in 2002. Since its release, the helmet has grown in popularity and use among consumers. As of 2007, Riddell has sold 750,000 Revolution helmets.[13][14][15]


  1. Zaroa, Brett. 2008. "GRIDIRON GEAR GOES TO WAR." Popular Science 273, no. 3: 86. Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost (accessed January 25, 2010).
  2. Noden, Merrell. 2004. "Charting All the Hits." Sports Illustrated 101, no. 19: 26-33. Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost (accessed February 9, 2010).
  4. Hoff, David J. 2006. "SPORTS SAFETY." Education Week 25, no. 24: 16. Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost (accessed February 9, 2010).
  5. Fainaru-Wada, Mark (2013). League of Denial. New York: Random House LLC. p. 315. ISBN 9780770437541.
  6. 1 2 "Improving Sports Safety: A Multifaceted Approach" (PDF). Federal Trade Commission. United States House of Representatives. Retrieved 21 January 2016.
  7. Engle, Mary (24 April 2013). "Closing Letter to Riddell" (PDF). Federal Trade Commission. Federal Trade Commission. Retrieved 21 January 2016.
  8. 2009. "Helmet design reduces concussions." Advanced Materials & Processes 167, no. 2: 4. Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost (accessed January 27, 2010).
  9. Noden, Merrell. 2004. "Charting All the Hits." Sports Illustrated 101, no. 19: 26-33. Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost (accessed February 9, 2010).
  10. Nagourney, Eric. 2007. "Football Head Injuries, Not So Cut and Dried." New York Times, December 18. 6. Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost (accessed February 6, 2010).
  11. Meadows, Bob. 2007. "CONCUSSIONS." People 68, no. 15: 107-110. Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost (accessed February 9, 2010).
  12. Miller, Michael Craig. 2010. "Concussions in football." Harvard Mental Health Letter 26, no. 7: 8. Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost (accessed February 6, 2010).
  13. Simpson, Tyler. 2003. "The Seeds of Innovation...In Sports." Brandweek 44, no. 3: 22. Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost (accessed January 25, 2010).
  14. Chadiha, Jeffri, Kostya Kennedy, and Richard Deitsch. 2002. "Headbanger's Ball." Sports Illustrated 97, no. 8: 22. Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost (accessed January 25, 2010).
  15. Schwarz, Alan. 2007. "Studies for Competing Design Called Into Question." New York Times, October 27. 10. Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost (accessed January 25, 2010).
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