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Football Helmets Do Not Protect Against Side Impact Concussions

New Study of Football Helmets Shows Little Protection Against Side Impacts, Leading to Concussion Risk

concussionA new study into football helmet protection shows that, while helmets offer good protection against front impacts, they do little to protect against damage from side impacts, which can lead to concussion or traumatic brain injury.

The American Academy of Neurology released the study of 10 leading football helmets: Adams a2000, Rawlings Quantum, Riddell 360, Riddell Revolution, Riddell Revolution Speed, Riddell VSR4, Schutt Air Advantage, Schutt DNA Pro+, Xenith X1 and Xenith X2.

Researchers used crash test dummies with sensors in 330 tests to determine the efficacy of the helmets. Straight-on hits to the helmets reduced the risk of skull fracture 60 to 70 percent on average, and reduced the risk of brain tissue bruising by 70 to 80 percent overall, compared to wearing no helmet. However, the risk of concussion or head injury due to side impacts was only reduced 20 percent.

The findings were presented on Monday, February 17th.

“Protection against concussion and complications of brain injury is especially important for young players, including elementary and middle school, high school and college athletes, whose still-developing brains are more susceptible to the lasting effects of trauma,” study co-author Dr. Frank Conidi, director of the Florida Center for Headache and Sports Neurology and an assistant clinical professor of neurology at Florida State University College of Medicine, said in an AAN news release.

“Biomechanics researchers have long understood that rotational forces, not linear forces, are responsible for serious brain damage including concussion, brain injury complications and brain bleeds. Yet generations of football and other sports participants have been under the assumption that their brains are protected by their investment in headwear protection,” said Conidi, who is vice chair of the AAN’s sports neurology section.

Unfortunately, the helmets that offered the least protection are, it turns out, the most popular brands to use in professional sports.

A lawsuit brought against the NFL recently suggests that the long-term effects of concussions and traumatic brain injury can be devastating. Repeated, untreated head injuries can lead to depression, encephalitis, and Alzheimer’s disease.

A study from last November also showed that stronger and more high-tech helmets do not necessarily prevent concussion injuries in football players.

“Our preliminary findings suggest that neither any specific brand of football helmet nor custom mouth guards result in fewer concussions in kids who use them. Despite what manufacturers might claim, newer and more expensive equipment may not reduce concussion risk,” lead co-investigator Dr. Margaret Alison Brooks said in a news release.  “So is it worth the significant extra cost to families and schools?”

The Strom Law Firm Can Help with Concussion Injury Cases

For many victims, a concussion or traumatic brain injury is not immediately noticeable. Concussion or traumatic brain injury symptoms may not appear for several days after the initial trauma. If you or a loved one suffered a concussion or traumatic brain injury as the result of an accident, the Strom Law Firm offers a free, no-cost consultation to discuss the facts of your case. Contact us today at 803.252.4800



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