As scientists confirm that football and other high-impact sports can leave lasting brain damage, companies are marketing “anti-concussion” equipment to coaches, parents and children that, neurologists say, probably does not work.
Neurologist Featured in Senate Hearing
Jeffrey Kutcher, chairman of the American Academy of Neurology’s sports section, said at a Senate hearing October 16, 2013, “the simple truth is that no current helmet, mouth guard, headband or other piece of equipment can significantly prevent concussions from occurring.”
Riddell’s Safety Claims Unfounded
Riddell, which makes the official helmet of the NFL, claims that its Revolution helmet reduces the number of concussions by 31%. Kutcher says that Riddell misrepresented research that showed only a 2.6% decrease in concussions.
Riddell Admits Helmet Deficiency
Even Thad Ide, the company’s senior vice president of development, admitted the helmet’s deficiencies when he told the Patriot-News newspaper in central Pennsylvania last year that no matter how advanced equipment becomes, its protection will have limits. “We can’t stress enough that no helmet will prevent all concussions,” Ide said. “A concussion-proof helmet isn’t realistically achievable.”
Equipment and Certification Standards Need Upgrading
A growing number of scientists, analysts and specialists claim that deficient helmets and a deficient, decades-old certification system for helmets are largely responsible for the unacceptable number of brain injuries NFL players repeatedly suffer.
Although some products may reduce the severity of a concussion, Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.) said he was worried that there was no standardized way to measure the reliability of any sport equipment company’s marketing claims. He has asked the Federal Trade Commission to investigate those claims.