Study: Brand, age of football helmet doesn’t reduce concussion risk

Properly maintained, fitted helmets most important ways to prevent injuries
Study: Brand, age of football helmet doesn’t reduce concussion risk

A University of Wisconsin study suggests there is no difference in concussion risk for high school football players based on different brands or ages of helmets, according to a release.

The study involved 2,081 football players at 34 high schools in Wisconsin during the 2012 and 2013 football seasons, according to the release. Players completed a pre-season demographic and injury questionnaire, and sport-related concussions were recorded throughout the year.

A total of 206 players, about 9 percent, sustained a total of 211 SRCs during the study, officials said. During the study, players wore Riddell, Schutt and Xenith helmets.

The study also found that custom-fitted mouth guards increased SRC risk by 60 percent compared to generic guards; the rate of SRC was nearly seven times higher during competition than practice and four times higher during full-contact practice than no-contact practice; and age, BMI, grade in school or competition level was not associated with an increased risk of SRC.

Another important finding was that players who sustained an SRC during the previous 12 months were almost twice as likely to sustain another one compared to players with a history of SRC, according to the release.

“This was surprising because we found that the increased risk exists even when controlling for the players’ use of protective equipment, years of football experience and player characteristics, such as their grade in school and competition level,” said Tim McGuine, UW sports medicine researcher and co-author of the study. “These results highlight the need for medical providers to document a history of SRC in young football players and for more education among parents, coaches and the players about the increased concussion risk in these individuals.”

The researchers said other than learning appropriate tackling and other on-field techniques, properly maintained and fitted helmets remain one of the most important ways to prevent skull fractures and scalp lacerations in football players.