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Tennessee using cushy technology to guard against trauma

Guardian Caps giving Vols an extra layer of protection at football practice
Published: Sep. 9, 2020 at 12:11 PM EDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - In this day of CTE or head trauma being experienced by football players, anything that can be done to limit the risk is important. Well that was the idea behind the Guardian Cap or protective cushion cover you see worn by the Tennessee players During fall camp says Erin Hanson, “And we knew that most college and high school programs had an inventory of helmets so we decided to take that idea and try to figure out how to make an affordable  one size to fits all to retro fit any existing helmet.

Erin and Lee Hanson are co-owners of Guardian Innovations, who  produce the Cap for over 200 colleges and 1500 plus high schools across the country. Erin says outfitting players with the cap at an young age is essential to their overall development, " Studies from Purdue a few years ago sowed that the average high school lineman was taking anywhere from 1100 to 1500 hits to the head per year. You know they’re still hitting their heads a good bit so if we can start at those lower levels then yeah, that’s a beautiful thing."

The goal for each, guarding each player from absorbing the full force of those head to head or knee to head blows says Erin, “Helmet to knee and rib and elbow all of this impacts. If you can reduce up to a third of that impact that’s gonna make a real difference over the career span of a player.”

Erin’s husband and company co-owner Lee Hanson adds, “It all has to do with the way physics works. You want to defeat that impact on the outside before it gets into the helmet and we have a lot of little pockets and those little pockets move independently of each other. They actually move around the head instead of through the head.”

So how did Tennessee get involved in having its players outfitted with the Caps? Well after seeing his coaching colleagues utilize the product, Jeremy Pruitt became sold on this extra layer of protection for his players says Guardian Innovations sales manager Tony Plagman, “Jimbo Fisher was using them at Florida State, he brought them with him to Texas A&M. At SEC meeting coach Pruitt heard feedback from coach Fisher  and that’s how we got the Vols in on them.”

Having this product will cost a program anywhere from 40 to 50 dollars per helmet, but they’re expected to last some three years which comes out to about 15 dollars per student athlete.

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