James Harrison A Head Trauma Spokesperson?

James Harrison, the oft criticized football player – rather punisher – of the Pittsburgh Steelers has now found time to make comments regarding safety of players brains.  I will admit that this tact is much more productive than blaming “soft” rules for his repeat offenses of the illegal hitting rules.  I suppose he would be a very good “test subject” for a new product that may provide protection of the head;

After enduring what he estimated as “double digit” bouts with concussion-like symptoms throughout his decade-long career, Harrison began using a special layer of padding inside his helmet last fall and is pleased with the results.

“I haven’t seen any spots or had any blackouts,” Harrison said Tuesday.

Although the article and the statements from Harrison seem more like an advertisement, it is clear and important to remember that the CRT technology does not and will not prevent concussions.  Interior padding is something helmet companies have been working on over the years; it is the place on this piece of equipment where changes can have an impact – rather reducing impact.

Before everyone runs out to get the CRT technology, which in my opinion has real and definite helpful qualities for its other uses, we need to remember that concussions are mainly a result of acceleration, deceleration, rotational and angular forces.  Linear forces, where CRT is proven to attenuate, is low on the list of concussion culprits.  There is no way this product can attenuate the most troublesome forces that create concussions.

This creates a problem, even if the CRT technology seems to help in-game situations this will create a false sense of security.  Will players that seem and believe they are safer with this product play more recklessly?  Will players now use their head more (when they should still be using it less)?

Its great there are people like Mr. Vito working on finding solutions, but we must understand the concussion first and the mechanisms that create the concussion before we can all get worked up about resolutions.  We all must still respect the injury and grasp that there is nothing out there, as of now, that will attenuate concussions as we know them.

Harrison has a quote at the end that makes some actual sense;

“The league is mandating next year that we wear thigh and knee pads,” Harrison said. “I don’t know how many people’s career has been ended on a thigh or knee bruise. We have guys now that are 30, 31 years old that are having to quit the game because they have severe headaches … I think you should be focusing more on (the helmet) than knee or thigh pads.”

Side note in the article: Is “concussion-like” the same as “pregnant-like”?  No, they are concussion symptoms…


5 thoughts on “James Harrison A Head Trauma Spokesperson?

  1. Glenn Beckmann October 17, 2012 / 11:00

    As an additional caution against, as you say, everyone running out to get CRT, there are potential consequences beyond what you’ve already cited.

    It is the position of Schutt Sports that a person or organization – once they buy a helmet from us – can do whatever they want to the helmet. After all, it’s THEIR helmet. But there are very significant consequences for using ANY 3rd party or after-market product on a helmet (either attached to the outside, glued on the inside or assigned to the helmet in any fashion) to enhance the protective properties of the helmet. Those consequences are: voided helmet warranty, voided NOCSAE certification of the helmet and, perhaps most importantly, the likely transfer of liability for that helmet to the owner of the helmet.

    THAT is what all of these third party product makers are NOT telling you. The football helmet industry is a very litigious market. The barrier for entry into the market is extremely high because of that. That’s why there are only two major helmet makers left in the market.

    Will these third party product makers be there in case a catastrophic injury occurs in a helmet that has added their product? Do they carry the liability insurance that we do? Will they be in business three years from now or even next year?

    Schutt stands 100% behind innovation in the industry and progress in the battle against concussions. But we are not in favor of moving faster at the expense of smarter or better. Until these products pass the rigorous standards that we are required to and are proven to meet the standards of the industry, it is buyer beware.

    • joe bloggs October 17, 2012 / 11:08

      Schutt is on point.

  2. Michael Hopper October 17, 2012 / 14:10

    Glenn, has Schutt considered partnering with any of these 3rd party companies to make these helmets not only safer (maybe) but also compliant when it comes to legality and liability?

    • Glenn Beckmann October 17, 2012 / 14:16

      We talk to most of them almost constantly Michael. We’re working with at least one company, testing some of their products in our helmets.

      I know we sound self-serving to a degree, but there is an additional reason for our position: we have to defend ourselves in court constantly and we’re prepared for such engagements. Dare I say, we are good at defending ourselves and we’re equipped to do that. The individuals, schools, teams and leagues that buy these 3rd party products are not – and we’re trying to keep them out of harm’s way if something tragic should occur.

  3. Michael Hopper October 17, 2012 / 15:11

    Glenn, I figured as much. And I’m with you! I won’t even touch the visors my kids keep bringing in. I will not install something like that onto the helmet. I don’t agree with using them in the first place and they seem to be taken off in the middle of a game constantly. But just knowing that I could set myself up for trouble by adding that to the helmet– no thanks!

    I have worked with both Schutt and Riddell helmets. And like them both. But in my current position, I don’t make decisions regarding helmets; the coaches do.

    As an athletic trainer, I feel I must stay on top of all the different helmets out there so that I can be a resource to the coaches who make that ultimate decision.

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