Rawlings announced a multi-year interdisciplinary research collaboration with the Cleveland Clinic Neurological Institute and its Spine Research Laboratory to study the causes of concussions along with other sports-related head and neck injuries. Cleveland Clinic will be conducting independent testing using research equipment manufactured and donated by Rawlings.

The research equipment – initially including a linear impactor and air cannon – will be housed at the newly formed “Rawlings Performance Laboratory” at Cleveland Clinic's Lutheran Hospital. Doctors and scientists from Cleveland Clinic will be conducting research on protective headwear and accessories used in both baseball and football, measuring their ability to minimize the impacts felt at different levels of force and velocity as well as different angles of impact.

“The collaboration between Rawlings and Cleveland Clinic has developed out of a common goal to apply our particular areas of experience to increase the level of knowledge about what causes concussions and how athletes can better protect themselves against them,” said Robert Parish, president and general manager of St. Louis-based Rawlings, a subsidiary of Jarden Team Sports. “As the official helmet supplier of Major League Baseball, we are held to the highest of performance standards for our batting helmets and are constantly striving to enhance their protective capabilities. Through our collaboration with Cleveland Clinic, we hope to have more quantifiable research from which to draw on as we develop the next generation of protective headwear in baseball and football.”

The Cleveland Clinic research team, led by Spine Research Laboratory Director Lars Gilbertson, Ph.D., is studying the biomechanical performance of baseball and football helmets in relation to head and neck injuries.

“Concussion has become a signature injury of sports in this new millennium – and is the subject of an intense, interdisciplinary research effort here at Cleveland Clinic,” said Dr. Gilbertson. “Together with investigators from the Neurological Institute, Orthopedic and Rheumatologic Institute, and Lerner Research Institute, we are trying to determine how injurious effects of single and multiple impacts to the head in athletes can be reduced by sports protective equipment. This generous contribution from Rawlings will help promote this interdisciplinary research to benefit amateur, recreational and professional athletes.”

Head injuries can result in concussions and other brain injuries leading to short-term medical issues such as headaches and blurred visions and contributing to long-term problems such as Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease.

Hospital emergency rooms treat more than 40,000 head injuries in football players each year, according to the American Association of Neurological Surgeons. Football player head injuries are the second most common reason for ER visits among children ages 14 and younger.

“As physicians, we need quantifiable data and a better understanding of head and neck injuries that occur in sports,” said Edward Benzel, M.D., Chairman of Neurological Surgery at Cleveland Clinic. “More evidence is needed so we can better assess when athletes can return to action and what types of protective gear might best mitigate or prevent injuries.”

In addition to being the official batting helmet of Major League Baseball (MLB), Rawlings supplied every Minor League Baseball (MiLB) team and player with the new S100 batting helmet �€“ designed to protect up to speeds of 100 miles per hour. Rawlings also announced in July the company�€�s re-entry into the football protective headwear industry with the Neuro Responsive Gear (NRG) helmet series, currently on high school, collegiate and professional practice fields this season leading up to its full launch next March.