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(Editor’s Note: What follows is an excerpt from “Bauer Hockey Reaches Settlement with Canada’s Competition Bureau over Advertising Claims,” which appeared in the December issue of Concussion Litigation Reporter)
Bauer Hockey Corp. has reached a settlement to resolve an inquiry by Canada’s Competition Bureau regarding certain aspects of its advertising for the BAUER RE-AKT Helmet.
Specifically, the Bureau requested that Bauer remove or modify certain existing performance claims in Canada regarding the helmet. As part of the settlement, Bauer Hockey has also agreed to donate $500,000 worth of sports equipment to a Canadian charity over the course of five years.
Mike Oliver, the executive director of the National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment (NOCSAE), told Concussion Litigation Reporter that “the premise underlying the decision is both reasonable and accurate with regard to what helmets can and can’t do, and as to the level of scientific proof that should accompany any claim of measurable improvement to concussion protection.”
He continued: “There are far too many anecdotal stories offered as proof that certain products protect against concussive injuries. This decision mandates a much higher and verifiable level of evidential proof if such claims are to be made. Emotions run high on all sides of the concussion discussion. Parents worry about the long-term consequences of a concussive injury, and are easy targets for a simple solution. Imposing an objective and strict proof requirement recognizes the potential for misplaced reliance and should effectively limit such unsupported claims.”
(To read the rest of the story, which includes an interview with a legal expert, subscribe to CLR)
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.
Reebok-CCM Hockey, the official outfitter of the National Hockey League, the American Hockey League, the Canadian Hockey League, and several NCAA and national teams, has taken issue with the pronouncements of a competitor, which allegedly claims to reduce rotational acceleration.
The target of its ire is Bauer and its RE-AKT helmet.
“The topic of head injuries in hockey is too important and of serious concern to the general public to be the subject of confusion in the marketplace regarding product performance.” said Phil Dubé, General Manager for Reebok-CCM Hockey.
Reebok-CCM went on to maintain in a press release that it has “at least one helmet that performs significantly better overall than the RE-AKT helmet at reducing rotational acceleration when tested using a peer-reviewed and scientifically published test protocol designed by the University of Ottawa to specifically evaluate ice hockey helmets. The results of that test were statistically significant at the 95 percent confidence level, for all but one head impact location. The test also showed that Reebok-CCM’s helmet performed better at reducing linear acceleration at high speeds to a statistically significant degree.”
The company went on to suggest that “the University of Ottawa’s peer-reviewed and published test protocol using a pneumatic linear impactor to measure rotational impacts is the best test methodology that currently exists to measure rotational impact forces for hockey helmets. The linear impactor simulates player-to-player contact and is similar to a test device created at Wayne State University for the reconstruction of National Football League helmet-to-helmet collisions. There are other test protocols developed in other industries for different types of helmets, such as those worn in motocross or equestrian activities, but those tests do not simulate impacts in a manner that truly mimics the rotational acceleration that can be experienced by hockey players.”