New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman issued a consumer safety alert earlier this month that was designed primarily to warn parents of children who play football that they can’t rely on helmet makers’ claims that their product can reduce the risk of concussion.
Schneiderman said a key concern of his office is “ensuring that manufacturers don’t mislead the public and endanger young New Yorkers. Remember that no helmet can prevent a concussion. Claims or representations that a particular helmet is anti-concussive or concussion-proof can be misleading and even dangerous. Reliance on promotional claims about this technology may give players and parents a false sense of security, which could lead a player to taking more risks.”
He added that some manufacturers are promoting after-market “add-ons” to helmets that are claimed to reduce the chances of a player getting a concussion. Examples of this include liners, padding, bumpers, pads and other enhancements. He also pointed to support for his position.
On August 7, 2013, National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment (NOCSAE) issued a statement to remind leagues, coaches and parents that “regardless of the truth of such claims, devices that attach to the outside of the helmet change the model, by definition, and may void NOCSAE certification.”
Finally, he offered the following things to know about concussions:
- Players, parents and coaches must be trained to see the symptoms and risks of concussion.
- It is extremely important to recognize the signs of concussion and remove the player immediately from the game.
- New York State law requires that players be removed from play until they are asymptomatic for a minimum of 24 hours and have written approval from their physician to return to play.
- The number of concussions can be significantly reduced with modifications to practice format – such as learning to avoid head-on “collisions” on the field of play.
- Reducing the number of hits is instrumental to reducing the risk of concussion because of the cumulative risk from repeated hits. Limit the amount of contact in practice and forbid drills that involve full-speed, head-on blocking and tackling that begins with players lined up more than three yards apart.
- Players need to be trained to focus on techniques that minimize head-to-head hits. Coaches and referees must strictly enforce penalties against such behavior.