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Study shows helmets in use not made to prevent concussions

Tuesday's health and safety news from the world of football:

* A study presented to the American Academy of Neurology released Monday said that many helmets still in use today were not properly made to protect players from concussions on hits from the side of the head.


"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," said study co- author Frank Conidi, MD, DO, MS, director of the Florida Center for Headache and Sports Neurology and Assistant Clinical Professor of Neurology at Florida State University College of Medicine in Port Saint Lucie, Fla. Conidi is also the vice chair of the American Academy of Neurology's Sports Neurology Section.


For the study, researchers modified the standard drop test system, approved by the National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment, that tests impacts and helmet safety. The researchers used a crash test dummy head and neck to simulate impact. Sensors were also placed in the dummy's head to measure linear and rotational responses to repeated 12 mile-per-hour impacts. The scientists conducted 330 tests to measure how well 10 popular football helmet designs protected against traumatic brain injury, including: Adams a2000, Rawlings Quantum, Riddell 360, Riddell Revolution, Riddell Revolution Speed, Riddell VSR4, Schutt Air Advantage, Schutt DNA Pro+, Xenith X1 and Xenith X2.


The study found that football helmets on average reduced the risk of traumatic brain injury by only 20 percent compared to not wearing a helmet. Of the 10 helmet brands tested, the Adams a2000 provided the best protection against concussion and the Schutt Air Advantage the worst. Overall, the Riddell 360 provided the most protection against closed head injury and the Adams a2000 the least, despite rating the best against concussion.


"Alarmingly, those that offered the least protection are among the most popular on the field," said Conidi. "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."


WPTV-TV in Tallahassee also looked at the involvement of Florida State University researchers. Bloomberg News also reported on the study.

* Charlotte Panthers wide receiver opened a 20,000-foot sports training facility in a Charlotte suburb, the Charlotte Observer reported.


The training facility will be the 24th nationwide, and the second in North Carolina, opened by parent company D1 Sports Holdings LLC. D1 Raleigh opened in 2011. Smith also co-owns a D1 facility that opened in Greenville, S.C., in 2012.


D1 operates 20 U.S. locations with professional athlete, sports medicine and therapy partners. Other pro athletes who co-own facilities include Peyton Manning, Philip Rivers, Tim Tebow, Jason Witten and Herschel Walker.


* Mike Jolly, who has been a proponent of neck conditioning to prevent concussions, will be speaking to the league's strength and conditioning coaches during the NFL Scouting Combine, a press release announced.

* KENS-TV in San Antonio reported that football helmet safety is being scrutinized by Texas school districts.

* KJCT-TV in Grand Junction, Colo., reported on a Parents Concussion Task Force in its community.

* KING-TV in Seattle reported that Seattle Children's Hospital is seeing an increase in overuse injuries by in young athletes.

Editor's note: A link to a MomsTeam.com report was incorrectly packaged with the lead item in this post. That link has been deleted.

-- Bill Bradley, contributing editor

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