Malthouse, whose involvement in the league as player or coach stretches back more than four decades, said attitudes to head knocks had changed enormously, including his own.
"You used to say to blokes: `Grow up, get out there again,'" he said.
The league says its current medical advice is that there is no definitive evidence that helmets prevent concussion or brain injuries.
But Malthouse tips that will change with advancing technology and it will come down to whether the AFL is willing to accept it.
"It's going to have to come back at some stage to the medical people to say: `We've now developed this (helmet) model that can fit over the head that softens the blow,'" Malthouse said.
"That will come along at some stage.
"We'll accept it or we'll say: `No, our game was built without it and we don't want it.'"
The AFL on Wednesday announced it would host a concussion conference, also involving the NRL, ARU and FFA, in Melbourne on March 20-21, to update the codes on the latest research.
Malthouse said rule changes in recent years to protect players with their heads over the ball were welcome, but more could be done.
Already, concussed players may not return to the ground.
But Malthouse said it would ease pressure on doctors to hurry their diagnoses if a substitute could be used temporarily, instead of leaving a team down one interchange player.
"At the moment we all panic about the time that player's off," he said.
The veteran coach would also like a rule prohibiting players from picking up the ball unless they are on their feet, which he believes would make the game safer and more attractive.
Both suggestions have previously been rejected by the league.