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Polygence Scholar2022
Nikhil Vallikat's profile

Nikhil Vallikat

Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and TechnologyClass of 2023Chantilly, Virginia



  • "Helmet Modifications and Policy Changes to Mitigate Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy in Professional Football" with mentor Laura (Feb. 7, 2022)

Project Portfolio

Helmet Modifications and Policy Changes to Mitigate Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy in Professional Football

Started Aug. 5, 2021

Abstract or project description

Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) is a neurodegenerative disease caused by repetitive brain trauma which can have symptoms of aggression, depression, and progressive dementia. A common mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI), which is linked to the development of CTE, a concussion occurs when contact or a whiplash causes the brain to shake inside the head and contact the skull. By preventing concussions, CTE risk can be mitigated. By focusing on and preventing the rotational and linear acceleration of the head, this shaking of the brain can be reduced. Some measures being researched to reduce these accelerations include the Impact Diverting Mechanism, a fluid-based shock absorber, and an outer shell of a helmet. Further measures being implemented include investigating the role of posture and neck muscular strength on concussion prevention. In addition, play-by-play analyses also reveal the dangers of the kickoff in terms of concussion risks due to the increased accelerations. Because of this, kickoffs should be removed due to their negligible game value and high risk and can be replaced by simply starting at the 25-yard line.

Overall, my project encompasses possible preventative measures which can be implemented in the National Football League in order to prevent concussions. Preventing concussions is key in mitigating CTE. My interest in the project stems from the case of Junior Seau. I was around 8 when I heard about the case of Junior Seau's suicide and I didn't understand it at the time. Throughout this project, I learned that his tragic suicide was caused by the sheer amount of concussions and traumatic brain injuries he sustained during his 20 year long career. By improving the helmet, to decrease the forces to the head, or by changing the rules of the game to decrease dangerous plays, football can be made safer so that such a tragedy does not have to occur again