DYK Helmets Do Not Stop Concussions: An article that must get traction

25 Jul

I can tell you there is more coming on this issue – from here and other platforms – but this Regressing (part of Deadspin) article really needs to be highlighted here for those seeking accurate concussion information.  I would be remiss if I didn’t – virtually – give Kyle Wagner a “good game” for writing a beauty!

‘Hockey’s About To Get The Bullshit “Anti-Concussion Helmet” Treatment’ appeared 7/23/14, here are some great excerpts.

Lets begin with the opening salvo;

Virginia Tech thinks hockey helmets are bullshit, which is more or less true. In turn, it wants to look at the differences between hockey’s helmets and football’s recently evolved versions, and bring the concussion-stopping advances to hockey. This is pretty much bullshit.

Then the all-important – simplistic – overview of the concussion process (emphasis mine);

The brain floats suspended by fluids in the skull, and when it suffers concussion, it both smacks into the inside of your skull and incurs rotational force, irreparably damaging the brain stem.

Why we wear helmets;

Helmets, meanwhile, are there to protect your skull from fracturing in the impact of a collision. They provide this protection, and the best helmets have interior mechanisms that can offer some small aid in decelerating a collision.

A wonderful note in the article, that may be glossed over by most readers, but it very peculiar to many of ‘us’ in the know and actually understand/grasp both the concussion injury and the statistics that are thrown out about them;

If the above numbers seem low to you—a combined 64 concussions for eight college football teams over six seasons, or just about 1.3 per team per season—then you’ve likely read enough to have seen players talking about getting their “bell rung” often enough that those Virginia Tech numbers wouldn’t just represent a decrease in risk by half, but exponentially. If the available data say anything, it’s that they are hugely incomplete.

Further on the above excerpt, 1.3 concussions for AN ENTIRE TEAM for AN ENTIRE SEASON is just asinine, in my humble opinion.  Think of all the players that practice and play for a college football team (somewhere in the 60-90 range, give or take) and all the collisions that happen in the sport and you are only seeing 1.3 concussions/year?  Although I work and have worked at smaller and younger levels my observational data calls the above numbers into serious question.  In the past five years I have seen on average 6-10 concussions a season for high school.  Let alone the year I saw 14 concussions from 100 players in youth football (grades 4-8).  This is either an indictment of youth football – on its inability to keep the concussions down (which I don’t think is the case) – or it is a revelation that the protection afforded these particular college football teams is so far superior that we need to rethink the lower levels (for which there is validity).  If you were to compare this data set to the NFL and our numbers over the past four years (4.91 concussions/team/season) you would find that concussions for these eight institutions is EARTH-SHATTERING-LY good.  So good that we should be replicating their model immediately!

The best information in the article comes in an all-caps sentence that seemingly is used as a paragraph “break”;

HELMETS DON’T STOP CONCUSSIONS.

And that is the simplest way to describe all of this minutia, helmets are not stopping concussions anytime soon.

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One Response to “DYK Helmets Do Not Stop Concussions: An article that must get traction”

  1. phil colwell July 31, 2014 at 11:27 #

    yes; think of two football players running 4.5 40,s colliding head to head after maximum speed. you might as well be slammed against a wall at 40 miles per hour ! no helmet is going to help that. only a change of rules can help future players of all contact sports. unfortunately it is too late for many.

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