Some Football Teams Drill Without Helmets to Prevent Traumatic Brain Injury
After the large traumatic brain injury lawsuit against the NFL led to a huge settlement for players who suffer long-term health issues related to repeated, untreated concussions, helmet manufacturers, safety experts, lawmakers, and loved ones have all debated about the best course for preventing traumatic brain injury in sports players, especially football players.
Now, one daring college football team is running drills for upcoming games without helmets.
The University of New Hampshire Wildcats are running practice drills leading up to their games without helmets – not because the team doesn’t care about safety, but because the team wants to improve overall physical technique to prevent concussions and traumatic brain injury.
Erik Swartz, a professor of kinesiology at the University of New Hampshire, says that players clashing against each other with helmets can lead to sloppy technique – the players are not protecting their heads because they think the helmet will do the work for them. Swartz says the better form is to tackle another player chest-to-chest, so the player is not leading with their helmet.
Swartz used to play rugby, the sport that led to American football, and uses that past experience to inform his current traumatic brain injury prevention techniques. “A better helmet, for its technology to work, actually requires that there’s an impact to the head,” says Swartz. “You keep your head out of the way in a tackle in rugby because it’s not protected. It will hurt.”
The idea is to “look up when you tackle, to see what you’re hitting,” says Wildcats running back Donald Goodrich. “It becomes second nature if you do it enough in practice.”
“If you look on the sidelines, let’s say, after there’s a touchdown in football, oftentimes the players will head-butt themselves to celebrate,” Swartz points out. “They probably wouldn’t do that if they didn’t have a helmet on.”
The team will still wear helmets during other forms of practice, as well as the games themselves.
In the meantime, the team is grouped into clusters of 25 for the purposes of a traumatic brain injury study. The control group always practices with a helmet, while the treatment group removes their helmets for a short tackling practice.
The NFL is paying attention to Swartz’s study, and along with helmet manufacturers GE and Under Armour, has given the professor a $500,000 grant to investigate methods of preventing traumatic brain injury.
Many former NFL players now suffer chronic traumatic encephalopathy, depression and suicidal thoughts, anger management and other emotional issues, and physical ailments related to brain changes from untreated concussions and traumatic brain injuries sustained during their time as players.
The Concussion and Traumatic Brain Injury Attorneys at the Strom Law Firm
If you or a loved one has suffered a traumatic brain injury due to a concussion after an automobile accident or injury from a defective product, it is not too late to get help. The attorneys at the Strom Law Firm offer free consultations to discuss the incident that led to traumatic brain injury and determine if you have a personal injury case. Contact us today. 803.252.4800.