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Standard Measurement of Insulative Properties of Football Shoulder Pads

Rader, Julie Diane
The purpose of this study was to assess and compare six different football shoulder pads regarding heat and moisture transfer performance. The measurements for thermal and evaporative resistance were taken using a sweating thermal manikin. All measurements were analyzed for differences in insulative values to determine which shoulder pads were the safest for athletes to wear in hot environments. This study determined that there was no significant difference found between the six styles of shoulder pads tested for thermal resistance. There was also no significant difference between the shoulder pads in relation to evaporative resistance. Therefore it was determined that there was no significant difference for insulation variables between the shoulder pads made by different manufactures. The results also show that no shoulder pads tested are safe for an individual to wear for the duration of a football game, or 210 minutes. For all uniform configurations tested the safe amount of time worn was less than 7.7 minutes. In conclusion it has been determined that there were no shoulder pads tested that are safe for individuals to wear in the tested temperatures. It is evident from these results that the equipment worn during football practices and games significantly contributes to many of the heat illnesses incurred by athletes playing football. Heat illnesses are the largest cause of injuries in the game. Because the research has confirmed that the uniform ensemble currently worn is not safe for the duration of a game in any of the temperature variables tested, new designs for football uniform ensembles with appropriate thermal and evaporative qualities need to be developed.