Study shows over-the-counter mouth guards don't protect as well

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

* Digital Journal published a peer-reviewed study that showed custom-made mouthguards outperformed store-bought models in reducing the risk of concussions.


High school football players wearing store-bought, over-the-counter (OTC) mouthguards were more than twice as likely to suffer mild traumatic brain injures (MTBI)/concussions than those wearing custom-made, properly fitted mouthguards, reports a new study in the May/June 2014 issue of General Dentistry, the peer-reviewed clinical journal of the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD).


"Researchers and, most importantly, parents, are looking for ways to better protect children against concussions," said lead author Jackson Winters, DDS, a pediatric dentist who also served as a high school and collegiate football official for 28 years. "Consumers may believe that today's advanced helmet design provides sufficient protection, but our research indicates that, when compared to over-the-counter versions, a custom-made, properly fitted mouthguard also is essential to player safety."


The study followed 412 players from six high school football teams. Three teams (220 athletes) were randomly assigned to wear custom-made mouthguards, and three teams (192 athletes) wore standard OTC mouthguards of their own choosing. All players wore the same style of football helmet.


According to the study, 8.3 percent of athletes in the OTC mouthguard group suffered MTBI/concussion injuries. For those with custom-made mouthguards, however, the rate was only 3.6 percent.


* Former New York Giants offensive lineman David Diehl talked to a New Jersey high school about concussion awareness, News 12 New Jersey reported.


Diehl spoke to them about the signs and symptoms of concussions and the importance of getting tested before returning to the sports field.


"Having a concussion is basically your brain bouncing off your skull," Diehl says. "That's something we can't see, but doctors can see. Playing sports, you can play through an ankle or knee. But this is different."


Diehl is affiliated with St. Barnabas Hospital, which offers baseline screenings for student athletes. They can be used to determine when a student's brain has healed and is ready to return to the playing field.


* KMBC-TV in Kansas City looked at an emerging concussion test at the University of Kansas Hospital's concussion management center using a blood test.

* Phys.org published work by a group of University of Arkansas researchers who are working on wireless helmet sensors.

* The North Carolina High School Athletic Association passed a rule that any coach who coaches a game without taking a concussion awareness course faces a $500 fine, according to the Raleigh News & Observer.

* The Charleston (S.C.) Post and Courier looked at the consequences of brain injuries in children.

* PhxFan.com reviewed prep football safety with the return of spring practices in Arizona.

-- Bill Bradley, contributing editor

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