With the increased controversy surrounding the safety of high school football, it’s no surprise that the efficacy of football helmets to protect against concussions, and other head injuries, has recently come under close scrutiny.

Football, helmets and concussions

High school football players suffered more than 1,300 concussions in 2013, according to the Minnesota Department of Health. In addition to game play, and how injuries are handled both on and off the field, helmet design is also being re-examined. But many medical experts argue that helmets simply can’t prevent a player’s head from incurring a head injury because concussions occur in the head and not in a helmet.

Skeptics haven’t deterred inventors and helmet manufacturers from trying, however. New designs to protect players, as well as the sanctity of the sport, are being completed each week in what Popular Science has referred to as the “helmet arms race.” One such design uses a Multidirectional Impact Protections System (MIPS) which mimics the human head, reducing brain rotational by 40-50%.

Helmet rating system

In 2011 Virginia Tech created a five-star system to rate helmets based on rigorous tests, dropping helmets from various heights and angles. Important to note, though, is that the 2014 report of their findings was limited to only 23 large-size, adult helmets.

Though many schools have switched to helmets rated with four or five-stars from Virginia Tech, many researchers say it doesn’t mean their risk of concussion is reduced. “The concussion takes place inside the skull and that’s the challenge,” said Kevin Merkle, associate director of the Minnesota State High School League. “That’s why no one is going to make that perfect helmet that is going to eliminate concussions.”

Basically, at this point, there’re no definitive answers as to the efficacy of football helmets protecting against concussion. Players, and parents of players, need to do their own research, weigh the consequences, and make their own choices.

Tip: find your kid’s school’s football rating.

Symptoms of a concussion

Football isn’t the only sport to be concerned about. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 38 million boys and girls across the country, ages 5-18, participate in an organized sport. Of these, 3.8 million suffer a sports (or recreation-related) concussion every year.

Bottom line: If you are the parent of a kid that plays a contact sport, you should be well versed in the signs of a concussion.

These include:

Temporary loss of consciousness
Feeling dazed, dizzy, or light headed
Blurred Vision
Light sensitivity
Nausea or vomiting
Slurred speech/Incoherence
Loss of memory
Slowed reaction
Trouble balancing
Inexplicable irritability or anxiety

If you or a member of your family has suffered a brain injury from a contact sport such as football, hockey, or soccer contact Meshbesher & Spence immediately to discuss the details of your case. Our attorneys are here to ensure that you receive the medical care and rehabilitation treatments you deserve.