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Minimize Catastrophic Brain Injury Risk for Youth Football Players

football catastrophic brain injuryA paper by the researchers at Temple University, the Orthopedic Center in Rockville, Maryland, and the Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio suggests air bladder helmets increase the risk of catastrophic injury and that there is no evidence that new football helmet technology has reduced the risk of a catastrophic brain injury or traumatic brain injury (TBI). Their research suggests properly fitting helmets and proper inflation of air bladder linings are the most effective steps against TBI.

The paper was presented in 2012 at a meeting of the American Orthopaedic for Sports Medicine. In the paper, one of the most important specific findings was an 82% decrease in risk for concussion with a loss of consciousness in athletes that wear properly fitted helmets. In fact, the age and condition (new compared to reconditioned) and helmet lining type, such as foam, air and gel, did not have a significant impact on the risk for amnesia or loss of consciousness.

Even further, air bladder helmet might actually increase the risk for catastrophic intracranial brain injury. 84% of the injuries between 1984 and 2001 that resulted in a brain injury involved the use of air bladder helmets. According to the authors of the paper, it is possible the increased risk is due to leakage of the air bladder system, as the air bladders are prone to leaking that would lead to a compromised helmet. In a related finding, it was shown the risk of concussion with amnesia increased by 35% each higher grade level, which can be attributed to increased exposure.

New Technology in Helmets

Unfortunately, there is little to no evidence that the newer technology in helmets has done anything to decrease risk of injury. In fact, the paper mentioned above found the percentage of high schoolers and college football players that sustained concussions was pretty consistent over a 30-year period. With such a small impact, the authors of the paper questioned whether technological advances have had any positive impact on concussions. In some cases, the newer technology can be faulty, such as a deflated air bladder, and can actually put youth at a higher risk of injury.

It is also possible that some kids are simply more prone or have a predisposition for injury. Some factors include helmet fit, dehydration, medications, gender, genetics, depression, fatigue, metabolic, ADHD, history of head injuries, hormonal disturbances, migraines, prior concussions, and many other factors yet to be identified.

The only proven consistent preventative measure against such injuries lays in proper helmet fitting and maintenance, such as ensuring air bladders are properly inflated. If your child has suffered a concussion due to an underinflated helmet, improperly fit helmet, or other negligence, contact us today to find out your legal options.


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