Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Committee Chair/Advisor

Dr. John D. DesJardins

Committee Member

Dr. Gregory S. Batt

Committee Member

Dr. Martine LaBerge

Committee Member

Dr. William Bridges


The motivation for this Ph.D. dissertation is to provide football equipment managers, coaches, parents, athletes, and relevant industry personnel with an understanding of the implication a chosen football facemask design will have on the safety of the athlete. As athletes have increased their capacity for speed, size, and strength, so too has the head injury risk increased in American football. To align with the increase in head impact injury in American football, the protective head impact community must expand its capacity to evaluate protective equipment systems. This dissertation focuses specifically on one helmet system component: the football facemask. This dissertation was completed in three steps to evaluate the mechanical characteristics of football facemasks: 1.) a review of literature regarding existing methods used to evaluate protective headgear in American football; 2.) an evaluation of the industry standard for evaluating the impact performance of a helmet system made up of a football facemask, an outer shell, and internal padding; and 3.) an isolated evaluation of the structural stiffness of existing football facemasks designs. The results demonstrated that the existing methods used to evaluate football facemask performance lack the sensitivity necessary to differentiate the performance of various facemask designs. The contribution of this dissertation to the field is a novel method, including a patented apparatus and protocol, to characterize the structural stiffness of football facemasks to set up future work examining the relationship between the stiffness and impact performance.



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