Study: Brand/Type of Helmet and Mouthguard May Not Significantly Reduce Risk of Sport-Related Concussions

In a recent presentation at the 23rd Annual Meeting of the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine (AMSSM) at the Hyatt Regency in New Orleans, La Alison Brooks, MD, MPH, a sports medicine physician and faculty member at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, presented at talk on: “Incidence of Sport-Related Concussion in High School Football Players: Effect of Helmets, Mouthguards, Previous Concussions, Years Playing Experience.”

Dr. Brooks co-led a prospective cohort study of 2,288 high school football players over two seasons (2012 and 2013) to investigate whether a particular brand of helmet or type of mouthguard affects an athlete’s risk of suffering from sport-related concussion.

The study compared the helmet brands of Riddell, Schutt and Xenith with purchase years of 2003 through 2013 and generic versus specialized or custom mouthguard types against the incidence and severity (days lost) for each sport-related concussion sustained. Chi-square and t-tests were used to analyze incidence and Wilcoxon Rank Sum tests were used to determine severity. In total, 204 players sustained 208 sport-related concussions, causing them to miss a median of 14 days.

While helmet brand or age did not significantly affect the incidence or severity of sport-related concussion, prior concussion and the use of specialized or custom mouthguards were associated with an increased incidence of the injury. This is in contrast to manufacturers’ claims that a specific brand of helmet or type of mouthguard can significantly reduce the risk of concussion. Final multivariate regression analysis is in progress.

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