April 1, 2012

Without a doubt, there are families in Portland that would sneer at our headline. For people who have suffered a traumatic brain injury or whose family member has suffered one, the news comes too late. For families who are new to America’s most popular sport, the news is welcome. Football helmet manufacturers are coming up with new designs that minimize the effects of a blow to a player’s head, helmets that could make the game much safer for teens and adults alike.

It seems strange, but the football helmet hasn’t changed much since the 1950s. That was the decade that saw helmets go from leather caps to hard shells with padding and facemasks. Now, 50 years later, the brain injury epidemic has motivated industry leaders and startups to look at new ways to prevent concussions or, in one case, to offer immediate treatment to a serious injury.

One high school coach talked about his team’s use of a new helmet cover. He explained that the team was losing too many players to head injuries — benched when they showed symptoms of a concussion — that there were hardly enough players left for the Friday night game. From the coach’s comments, he was motivated more by a desire to keep the kids in the game than an effort to keep the kids safe, but he did end up agreeing to use a new helmet cover last year.

Everyone was pleasantly surprised by the results of the experiment. We’ll get into the details in our next post.

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


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