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

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, Continue reading

Helmets First

For youth, riding a bike is a favorite form of exercise and fun. But accidents do happen and parents should make sure they provide protection for their kids. For many, wearing a helmet while riding a bike is seen as a weakness, but kids should wear a helmet when riding a bike because you just never know what might happen. Dr. Joseph Cangas, a Columbia, IL pediatrician, is on a mission to get kids to start wearing bike helmets. He founded Helmets First in 2004 and gives away approximately 2,000 helmets each year to kids in the St. Louis area. ‘The Helmet Doctor’ not only gives away helmets, but he also educates the kids through school assemblies, bike rodeos, and other safety events.
Helmets First originated when the pediatrician discovered how few of his patients wore a bike helmet. It has continued to grow as this doctor donates his time and works to educate and equip kids and parents with this important information. Not only does he give away helmets, but also the kids and parents are also instructed on the proper fit of the helmet.
I won’t begin to tell you that wearing a bike helmet is going to definitively prevent a concussion because we all know there is no piece of equipment able to do so. I will, however, tell you that a bike helmet can prevent other head injuries and could potentially save lives. The most recent information I have seen recommends replacing a bike helmet after a single impact which is different from many other helmets.

More information about this non-profit organization can be found at http://www.helmetsfirst.com

NOCSAE Changes?

Since the early 70’s football helmet standards have remained the same.  When NOCSAE (the helmet certifying group) began, the number one issue was skull fractures, so they set up standards to prevent these horrible injuries.  This was a very big and important step, but since the standards were implemented, testing for those standards have not changed.  Until now, perhaps, thanks to people like Alan Schwarz and those in the concussion community.

Mr. Schwarz ,who writes for the New York Times (have I mentioned how much I like this guy?) published yet another piece on concussions, this time the focus on the NOCASE possibly addressing the elephant in the room.  Helmets do not protect against concussions, yet they market to that effect.

Nocsae’s single testing standard, used by all levels of football from pee-wees to professionals, considers only the extraordinarily violent impacts that would otherwise fracture skulls. It has little to do with the complex forces believed to cause concussions, and has not been changed meaningfully since it was first published in 1973.

The Nocsae standard has been criticized by outside experts, and even some Nocsae officials, for being outdated.

Xenith’s Building the Enlightened Warrior

Vin Ferrara is the CEO of Xenith and believes that he has found a way to make a football helmet that could revolutionize the game in terms of concussive episodes.  The X1 helmet is used by a very small number of professional players, because they are not provided by the NFL/team due to contracts with Riddell and other makers.

Mr. Ferrara is working hard on getting his product out, including great programs with lower level football, extending down to the high school level and earlier.  There is a purchasing program they have developed to get these helmets on heads as fast as possible.

I have yet to work with these helmets at my school, however I have convinced the administration and coaches to purchase some for our use.  It’s a tough task to eliminate the concussions, and we probably will not, but prevention is the best medicine, as well as being prepared.

Please click on the link to the left (Enlightened Warrior) to see what Mr. Ferrara has in mind and has put on paper.  Here is a quote:

First and foremost, anyone involved in athletics should believe that prevention of neurological injury is of paramount importance. An undercurrent of “concussions are inevitable, we just have to manage them” permeates the sports world. Just because some concussions may still occur, this does not warrant an attitude of complete resignation towards preventing the injury. Prevention is possible. Prevention is critical.

I would also like to thank Mr. Ferrara for recognizing the importance of certified athletic trainers as well.