Research Examines Whether Brand Name Helmets Offer Better Protection Against Concussion

Specific helmets do not provide athletes with better protection against sports-related concussions, Dr. Alison Brooks, with the University of Wisconsin, recently told a site called Family Practice News.

Brooks and her team reportedly reviewed three helmet brands used during the 2012 football season.5011227045_4df2341d87

“Students included in the study were 9th through 12th graders with a mean age of 15.9 years,” according to the article. “The students – who completed a preseason demographic and injury questionnaire (with 171 reporting a concussion in the prior 12 months) – wore various models of the three football helmet brands. Athletic trainers recorded the incidence and severity of SRC throughout the football season. More than half (52%) of the players wore Riddell helmets, 35% wore Schutt helmets, and 13% wore Xenith helmets. The helmets were purchased between 2002 and 2012.

“No difference was seen in the rate or severity (based on days lost) of sport-related concussion by helmet type or helmet purchase year, Dr. Brooks reported at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Pediatrics.”

“Contrary to manufacturer claims, lower risk and severity of SRC were not associated with a specific helmet brand,” Dr. Brooks said.

Other Surprising Findings

“The researchers also looked at specially constructed mouth guards versus generic mouth guards and whether there was a noticeable difference in protection. Sixty-one percent of the players wore generic models provided by their school, and 39% wore specialized mouth guards custom fitted by a dental professional or specifically marketed to reduce SRC.”

The SRC rate was actually higher for those who wore a specialized or custom-fitted mouth guard than for those who wore a generic mouth guard, according to Dr. Brooks.

The “focus could be better spent on rule enforcement and coaching education on tackling technique to limit or avoid contact to the head, perhaps limiting contact practices, and behavior change about the intent of tackling to injure or ‘punish’ the opponent,” she added.

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