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Brain Injury Research: Helmets Ineffective Against Concussions

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A landmark study could help Louisiana parents and coaches make better decisions about helmets used on sports teams. With mounting concern about brain injuries and concussions in sports such as football, it appears that scientists only now decided to rank helmets based on their ability to protect against concussion. Researchers tested 10 of the most commonly used helmets, conducting evaluations that measured commonly experienced forces.

The result: All of the helmets were terrible, according to the research team. The helmets were generally unable to prevent concussion. That information, scientists say, should be used to influence safety within football culture. Not only should coaches be instructing players in safe tackling techniques, but they should also encourage even young players to strengthen their shoulder and neck muscles. Additional rules about helmet-to-helmet contact should also be rigidly enforced.

Other research studies have listed various helmets as having protection advantages, but scientists do not agree on the best testing protocol for the helmets. The most recent study was the first to evaluate commercial helmets for twisting, torqueing and shearing forces, which cause the brain to collide with the sides of the skull. Ultimately, researchers may not agree on the best helmet on the market today, but they do say that realistic testing can result in helmets that are better suited to provide protection against brain injury. The testing may be modeled after car-safety ratings, according to some experts.

Even though scientists are always developing better ways to test helmets for safety and effectiveness, children, teens and adults are still suffering brain injury because of inadequate protection and lax enforcement of rules. Victims who have suffered traumatic brain injuries because of negligence in sports may benefit from the assistance of a Louisiana personal injury attorney, who can help them learn more about their legal options in the state.

Source: Los Angeles Times, "Football helmets and concussion: A new study opens new questions" Melissa Healy, Feb. 17, 2014

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