Local Company Makes High Tech Football Helmets Worn By the Pros
Youth concussions are on the rise. Especially in fall, when youth sports like football, ice hockey, and lacrosse start their seasons. But companies like Lowell-based Xenith, which also has a factory in Tewksbury, is changing the way helmets are made. The company already makes one of the most popular football helmets in the country, with NFL superstars like Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice wearing the helmet in every game.
Xenith was founded in 2004 by Vin Ferrara, who was a starting quarterback at Harvard University. After graduating, he took his own experiences with sports-related injuries and parlayed that into medical and MBA degrees from Columbia, so that he could try to create change in head and brain safety through a new kind of helmet.
Traditional football helmets use foam padding, but the Xenith helmets utilize shock absorbers that sort of act like mini individual air bags for the head. The shock absorbers collapse by venting air, providing a response to a wider range of energy levels than traditional helmet padding. For better fit and comfort, the helmets use a special system that adapts to the head, which provides fit with no pumps needed, and helps keep the helmet secure during an impact. The player simply pulls on the chinstraps, and the helmet snugs around the player’s head for a custom fit.
Canton-based Reebok recently launched the Checklight, a head impact monitoring skullcap that you can wear with or without a helmet. These innovations are important because even though head injuries are constantly being studied, researchers still have a lot to learn. Xenith is putting its money into R&D in order to create new products that can help athletes protect their body’s better. And while Xenith spokesperson, Jack Seitz, is hush hush on exactly what their next products will be, he does say that the company is looking into expanding into other items, like shoulder pads. “We are looking into utilizing the technology in lacrosse and hockey helmets in the near future, as well as other protective equipment (like shoulder pads).” The new shoulder pads, which will utilize the same shock absorbing technology to protect the upper body will be released this summer.