Researchers find little difference in protection between modern football helmets and the old-fashioned variety

Newer isn't always better, according to researchers from Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland Clinic and West Virginia's United Hospital Center. They found old-fashioned "leatherhead" football helmets from the early 1900s offer the same—and sometimes even better—protection as modern gear.

leatherhead football helmet

Researchers found that while modern helmets may be better at protecting against severe head injuries like skull fractures, they failed to provide better protection in the more common collisions and impacts players experience on the field-the kind that can result in concussions.

While protecting against the most serious injuries is important, safety standards for sports equipment should include protection against concussions and the cumulative effects of multiple lower-impact blows, which can add up over time to cause more serious injuries, according to Edward Benzel, a Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine professor and co-author on the study.

The results were published in the November issue of the Journal of Neurosurgery: Spine.