April 1, 2012

Last November, we wrote about a mother in southern Oregon who filed a lawsuit against the school district. Her son was a high school football player who sustained a life-changing traumatic brain injury during a game. The boy had been hit twice and told his coaches he thought he had a concussion. They allegedly told him to “just try and stick it out.” He collapsed soon after he went back on the field.

The mom wants high school football coaches to receive additional, intensive training in recognizing and addressing concussions. For many health and safety advocates, the training is important, but what happens on the field is just part of the problem. The equipment needs to be safer.

Manufacturers have listened. New and established companies alike are testing out different helmet technology that should protect players from head injuries. As we discussed in our last couple of posts, helmet design hasn’t changed much since the 1950s, even though football leagues and medical professionals know much more about the high human cost of TBI.

One newcomer to the helmet business is working on a post-injury innovation. The gadget fits inside the helmet. If a player sustains a hard hit to the head, another player or a trainer attaches a source of cooling gas to the bladder-like device; the device fills with the gas and reduces the head’s temperature. Lowering the brain’s temperature will reduce its swelling, which can, in turn, reduce the extent of the damage.

It isn’t a cure, according to someone close to the project, but it will buy a player time. In that time, medics can take the player off the field and transport him to the trauma center.

We’ll finish this up in our next post.

Source: Reuters.com, “Football turns to helmet technology to tackle head injuries,” Scott Malone, April 2, 2012


Categories: Blog