Could the Future of Football Helmets Be Inspired by Hedgehogs?

Posted by Tori Holmes
hedgehog football helmet

What do hedgehogs and helmets have in common? More than you might think.

University of Akron students Emily Kennedy and Bill Hsiung have been inspired by the hedgehog's unique biology and are creating a football helmet that will better protect players from concussions.

Hedgehogs have approximately 7,000 quills that are specifically designed to protect them from predators as well as falls. The way that the quills extend from the hedgehog's body results in impressive shock absorbing properties that allow them to walk away from a serious impact uninjured.

"They hit the ground and walk away uninjured, unfazed," Kennedy said. "That's because the quills that project from their pelt actually have evolved impressive shock absorbing properties."

hedgehog quill football helmet

Based on this design, Kennedy and Hsiung have crated a flexible, polyurethane prototype that has spines that bend and twirl around each other to absorb impact. The idea is that this will replace the foam liners of traditional football helmets to alleviate the possibility of a concussion.

While they're off to a great start, the pair still needs to optimize the current design to protect players against glancing blows - a type of hit it currently does little to protect from. Football players who suffer multiple concussions can have long-term neuro generative diseases later on.

Kennedy concludes:

"This is a really big social issue that we hope we can be part of the solution."

What do you think of football helmets made up of hedgehog spikes? Tell us in the comments below!

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Could the Future of Football Helmets Be Inspired by Hedgehogs?