AOSSM Helmet Fit Findings


As I prepared for a presentation at a football coaches clinic I was just checking my usual sources for new information when I came across a research study that was put out by the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine regarding concussions and helmet fit.  It was a welcome finding, not only could I use it in my studies but it was a great find to back up the new NFHS helmet rule.

One thing I have learned, the hard way, is that when speaking to coaches simply discussing what the concussion is and how it affects them only goes so far.  They are coaches, they naturally want to know about their opponent (concussions in this case) and how it will affect their team.  I have found that a simple overview of why we are where we are – current research, why it has changed – style of game, what is being done – rules/legislation, and how they can help – awareness/athletic training they seem to be very receptive.  Rarely do I get the chance to explain a new rule and then have research back up the change.

That is what happened on Saturday; NFHS focusing on proper helmet fit and then the AOSSM study;

“Athletes wearing properly fitted helmets, as reported by team certified athletic trainers, were 82% less likely to experience loss of consciousness (LOC) with a concussion. Helmet age and condition, (new vs. reconditioned) were not significant predictors of amnesia or LOC,” said one of the paper’s authors, Joseph Torg, M.D. of Temple University in Philadelphia, PA.

Researchers looked at reports from 1,398 concussion events collected by the National High School Sports-Related Injury Surveillance System using High School RIOTM. They used loss of consciousness (LOC) and amnesia as end points to determine concussion severity. Out of those studied, 44 individuals experienced LOC and 267 experienced some form of amnesia. Odds ratios for LOC were calculated based on helmet fit, inner helmet padding systems, athlete age and helmet condition (new vs. reconditioned.)

There is no definitive data that advanced football helmet technology and design is more protective against concussion or intracranial hemorrhage. In fact, current data indicates that helmet fit and air bladder lining may be associated with both concussion and intracranial hemorrhage.

What I found to be very peculiar was that the rule change came down before the research was released.  I have no idea if the NFHS had knowledge of this information prior to the rule change but it made it hold more weight.

The moral of the story (post) is that proper fitting of the helmet is very key, not only for prevention of catastrophic injury but possibly concussions.  This still does not take into effect the build up of “brain trauma” with subconcussive hits, but if this research holds up it will be a good step in the right direction to keep adolescents safe.

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One thought on “AOSSM Helmet Fit Findings

  1. Dorothy Bedford February 13, 2012 / 16:07

    In 20/20 hindsight, it’s too bad the researchers used LOC as an indicator of concussion severity since this assessment has been called into question more than once. I suppose it was a bit of standard data they could access, and we need every point of leverage to advance the cause of concussion awareness/ appropriate recovery protocols. Correct helmet fit is certainly a proven issue in mitigating the potential for head trauma in bicycle crashes.

    Research published last summer suggests that immediate dizziness may be a better indicator of longer recovery requirements. See
    Lau BC, Kontos AP, Collins MW, Mucha A, Lovell MR. Which On-Field Signs/Symptoms Predict Protracted Recovery From Sport-Related Concussion Among High School Football Players? Am J. Sports Med 2011;20(10) DOI:10.1177/0363546511410655 (published June 28, 2011 online ahead of print).

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