Several high schools in the country are testing new gear to help protect their football players from concussions. New helmet covers, worn strictly in practice, are being used to see if they reduce traumatic brain injury on the field.
Guardian Cap is a third of a pound, flexible helmet cover that absorbs about a third of the impact of a hit to the head, reducing the likelihood of concussion or traumatic brain injury. Though it’s currently only used in practice, research shows that 90% of the concussions happen during practice rather than during games.
Protecting Our Children
POC Ventures, the company that manufactures the cap, has sent out over 600 of the caps to high schools for field trials, which so far have been very successful. The Hanson Group, who owns POC, typically does not market directly, but the designers were concerned for their son, who plays high school football.
The original intent was to take these caps to the NFL, who had previously been interested in an older design call the ProCap, but that had never caught on. Hanson and her husband Lee redesigned that product in the hopes of catching the interest of the NFL at a symposium on concussions, but were turned away by Commissioner Roger Goodell.
The NFL is currently embroiled in a series of class action lawsuits for failing to disclose and protect players from the longterm dangers of concussions. The rejection of the cap just another sign that the NFL was not doing everything it could to protect players.
High School Traumatic Brain Injuries
After the rejection, the Guardian Cap wasn’t used again until Hanson’s son began playing football and the parents realized they could help protect him from head injuries. Since introducing it, some teams have even taken to wearing them during games as well as practicing because parents insisted. And the cap is cheap, for football gear, costing half of what the helmets do. It is, however, somewhat awkward looking, not as sleek as an uncovered helmet.
Damage from concussions tends not to come from a single injury, but from repeated injuries before the first has healed. Some research argues that players should be barred from playing altogether after a third lifetime concussion.