Concussion Protection With Helmet?

Written By: David Burns

factsRock Center’s Kate Snow’s recent report on helmets in soccer refutes helmets as the answer to concussion management. The manufacture of the Full 90 helmet reports a 50% reduction in risk of concussion but the evidence is not there to support this claim. A bump, bruise, cut is about the outside of the head but a concussion is about what happens inside the skull. Concussions are an issue with the brain impacting the inside of the skull or about shearing forces due to torsion (i.e. twisting forces).
Some of the issues pointed out in the interview were how little force it takes to “bottom out” the head band and how the helmet gives a false sense of security causing players to play more aggressively. This false sense of security could result in players not being conscious of protecting themselves and utilizing proper techniques.
In the interview Dr. Cantu, a leading concussion researcher, suggests neck strengthening exercises as an important measure to be taken. A video of neck strengthening exercises should be available at http://rockcenter.msnbc.msn.com. As Kate Snow points our “we need to take care of the vessel”. This notion of taking care of the vessel is what I’ve been stressing throughout my blog and with parent’s and players I’ve been talking with.
Function or how the brain is working is key. That is, baseline testing is an absolute must. Moreover, if we think of brain as a bunch of muscles. Each muscle needs to be tested differently. A thermometer is a great test for temperature but tells us nothing about our cholesterol. Therefore, looking at as many windows into the present function of the brain is a rational approach as a starting point. The more you know about your child’s present level of function the better you are equiped to be pro-active in concussion management. In other words, find the weaker “brain muscles”, strengthen the weaker “brain muscles” and don’t let them return to play post concussion until they have re-established appropriate functional baseline scores.
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