Football season starts soon and players are training to take the field. From the youngest players in grade school to the professional athletes taking the field before millions of fans, concussions are frequent discussion topics. As athletes who suffered traumatic brain injury (“TBI”) file more lawsuits, the manufacturers of safety equipment strive to offer new products that could help prevent concussion injury and damage. It makes sense that a properly fitting helmet could reduce impact to a player’s head, but what about the brain? Can high-tech helmets prevent concussions?
A recent article published in Athletic Business, a popular resource site for athletics professionals, focuses on vendors offering high-tech helmets.[i] Reviewing and commenting on research by Dr. Timothy McGuine and researchers at the University of Wisconsin, AB writers ask, “Is that new technology actually doing any good? New research would say no.” The article, published by UW Health Sports Medicine, “Sports Medicine Research: Helmets and Concussions,” reports the studies of Dr. McGuine and Dr. Alison Brooks.[ii]
“UW Health Sports Medicine is leading a research study to assess the effect of helmet brand on the incidence of sport related concussion in high school football players.”[iii]
The AB article mentions helmets that incorporate new technology, such as one offered by Schutt Sports.[iv] The UW Health article mentions that there are, “…new helmets with claims of laboratory testing that their “helmets offer the maximum protection” or “reduce the risk of concussion.” Further, the article states, “Unfortunately, there is little, if any evidence that the use of a specific football helmet brand will make it more or less likely that a high school football player will sustain a SRC [Sport-related Concussion] while actually participating in high school football.”
Which manufacturer would you choose if you were the high school athletics professional? The helmets that perform better in a fixed testing environment could help players be safer, but to say there could be safety guarantees in an inherently violent contact sport would be a stretch. The “safer” helmets are one component of player safety. Another important element is player education. Learning how to tackle in safer manners can help prevent injury. Spotting concussion symptoms and reporting them to team physicians can also increase safety.
We look forward to following up with the UW Health researches when they compile and share the incidence of sports-related concussions among the three helmet brands the group is tracking. Michael V. Favia & Associates follows and reports on sports injury topics and trends. The firm represents injured persons including athletes suffering from traumatic brain injuries.
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