Football Helmets and Sports Concussion

The debate about concussion in sports continues to heat up.  Recently FIFA’s medical committee chairman, Michel D’Hooghe, recommended that games be stopped for three minutes so that players could be properly assessed for brain injury (that is, concussion).  Meanwhile, Will Smith and Gugu Mbatha-Raw are set to star in a new movie about concussion in the NFL.

Schutt Football Helmet

The controversy about football helmets isn’t over either.  On the one hand, some studies seem to show that helmets can protect players from concussion to some extent, while some experts claim that the protection is minimal to none.

Virginia Tech has come up with a five star rating system for helmets, based on testing both on the field and in the lab.  Certain helmets, such as the Schutt AiR XP Pro VTD and Riddell 360, for example, far out-performed the Schutt Air XP Ultralite and Riddell Revolution IQ.

To see the ratings, visit Adult Football Helmet Ratings – May 2014.

Although ratings are helpful, players need to know one thing above all the controversy and hype.  If you’re playing a contact sport, especially sports like American football, hockey or rugby but including sports like football/soccer and basketball, you’re in danger of brain injury.  Even if you buy the best protection, it won’t protect you anywhere close to 100% from concussion.

Does that mean don’t play the sport?  Not necessarily, but it does mean that you can’t keep your brain from banging against the side of your skull using a helmet.  That’s why there is a call for proper assessment of injuries, the need to visit a doctor or specialist, the need to get out of the game when there is an injury, and to think carefully before you put yourself in danger again.

There are also movements for better training on how to tackle, and better rules to protect players.  (See the ideas from one specialist here)

The bottom line?  Get the best helmet you can, but don’t trust it to protect you from concussion, a brain injury which can have consequences for years ahead.

For more thoughts, see this recent news report (video and article):  High school football helmets tested for concussion risk  See also this article on Head sports trauma

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