A Cleveland-based helmet pad system company borrowed technology from the battlefield to design a head guard for soccer players to help protect against the growing threat of head injuries.
Team Wendy has been the sole provider of standard issue pad systems and retention systems for the Army and US Marine Corps for the last decade.
Team Wendy has provided millions of ballistic pad systems and thousands of helmets to men and women in uniform across the world. They also supply state and local law enforcement agencies and search and rescue teams with the protective equipment.
Over the last two years, the company has developed a head guard with Storelli that incorporates up to 9mm of a protective foam that is nearly identical to the foam Team Wendy uses in its ballistic helmets.
Ron Szalkowski, Director of Product Development and Research Collaboration, said the padding system has been shown to provide protection from some soccer-related head impacts.
“It’s used during a hit to decelerate the head and gradually bring it to a stop,” Szalkowski explained. “Obviously it’s not like football where everyone wears a helmet. But it’s picking up some traction.”
Research shows that sports related concussions have more than doubled since the year 2002.
In 2015, the US soccer federation banned players 10 and under from heading the ball after a lawsuit claimed that nearly 50,000 high school soccer players had concussions in 2010 — more athletes than in baseball, basketball, softball and wrestling combined.
While there has not been enough data collected to definitely prove that the head guard prevents concussions, Szalkowski said it has shown that it can prevent catastrophic brain injuries and skull fractures.
“The real design intent is for the incidental head to head contact or hitting a goal post or hitting the ground,” he explained.
Meanwhile Ali Kazemaini, Director of the Cleveland Soccer Academy and Head Coach at Cleveland State University, told newsnet5.com that the biggest issue with soccer head injuries is poor technique and over-inflated balls.
“If the proper technique is put in place injuries are going to be very minimal,” Kazemaini said.
He agreed that the Exoshield HeadGuard could be beneficial for players with a history of concussions.
“But at that point really is a more serious issue,” he explained.
The head guard is now available at sporting goods stores like DICK’S Sporting Goods and weighs only 8 ounces.