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J Athl Train. 1997 Jul-Sep; 32(3): 211–215.
PMCID: PMC1320239

The Efficiency of Tools Used To Retract a Football Helmet Face Mask

Kris E. Knox, MS, ATC, EMT
Kris E. Knox is Head Athletic Trainer at Decatur Memorial Hospital, Decatur, IL.
Douglas M. Kleiner, PhD, ATC, LAT, FACSM



The purpose of this study was to evaluate time, head movement, and ratings of satisfaction with several popular tools used for retracting a football helmet face mask.

Design and Setting:

Subjects retracted the face mask using a Phillips screwdriver, a Trainer's Angel, and an anvil pruner. A utility knife had to be eliminated from the study after the first two subjects were injured.


Five certified athletic trainers, five emergency medical technicians, and five student athletic trainers retracted a face mask with each tool.


Time was measured by stopwatch and movement by a force platform. Efficiency was calculated from total time and radial area. Ratings of satisfaction were reported by the subjects.


There was no difference in the total time to retract the face mask using the three tools. Movement was significantly (p < .05) greater with the Trainer's Angel than with the anvil pruner or screwdriver. Subjects were more satisfied with the anvil pruner than the Trainer's Angel or screwdriver. When grouped by the subjects' credentials, there were no differences in time or rating of satisfaction among the certified athletic trainers, emergency medical technicians, or student athletic trainers, but there was a difference for movement. The student athletic trainers produced the least movement and the certified athletic trainers produced the most.


It is suggested that the skill of face mask retraction be learned and practiced.

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Selected References

These references are in PubMed. This may not be the complete list of references from this article.
  • Feld F. Management of the critically injured football player. J Athl Train. 1993 Fall;28(3):206–212. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Segan RD, Cassidy C, Bentkowski J. A discussion of the issue of football helmet removal in suspected cervical spine injuries. J Athl Train. 1993 Winter;28(4):294–305. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Putman LA. Alternative methods for football helmet face mask removal. J Athl Train. 1992;27(2):170–172. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Schiess PK. Letters to the editor. J Athl Train. 1992;27(3):198–198. [PMC free article] [PubMed]

Articles from Journal of Athletic Training are provided here courtesy of National Athletic Trainers Association