In the late '70s Dr. C. J. Abraham was busy interviewing former middle school and high school football players who were paraplegics and quadriplegics to determine, in part, the causes of their horrific injuries. After speaking with roughly 20 athletes he became emotionally invested in their heart-breaking stories, which led to him patenting the flexible face-mask that was licensed and manufactured by Riddell in the early '80s.
"The face-mask I invented for use with the football helmet was related to a need to reduce the risk of paralyzing injuries to young children," Abraham says. "The steel face-mask the children were using weighed over a pound, did not absorb and dissipate forces and was much too heavy for young children. As a result, their heads and necks sagged and were prone to flexing extensively during a tackle, resulting in fractures of their spines. By cutting the weight in half and allowing the facemask to absorb and dissipate some of the impact forces, we were able to eliminate the paralyzing injuries that were caused by impact to the facemask during a tackle. Since the players started to use the facemask there have been no reported spinal injuries."
These days Abraham, well-known for his expertise in the area of head injuries and concussions, serves as the technical director for ForceField FF, makers of the popular headbands touted to reduce the risk of head injuries and concussions for children participating in soccer.