Why your kid’s football helmet better fit
Ill-fitting helmets may be one variable that predisposes athletes to sustaining more severe concussions, a recent study suggests.
The study, presented at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS), found that athletes who suffered concussions due to improperly fitted helmets had higher rates of drowsiness, hyperexcitability and sensitivity to noise. Many of the athletes experienced more than one of the 13 concussive symptoms reviewed retrospectively in the study.
A concussion is a serious brain injury caused by impact to the head, face, neck or even body, if the force of the impact goes up into the brain. Concussions occur due to the movement, and especially rotation, of the brain inside the skull. Even a strong blow to the body can cause the brain to move back and forth.
“Players should be encouraged to follow the manufacturer instructions to ensure the best fit of their helmet,” says Dr. David Lessman, a pediatric sports medicine physician at Advocate Medical Group. “It is also important to re-check the fit midway through the season as there are various components that can alter the fit of a helmet.
“While research has failed to demonstrate a concussion-proof helmet, concussion severity can be minimized with proper fitting combined with proper tackling technique,” says Dr. Lessman.
The best concussion prevention comes from adopting best practices, including playing and practicing safely. Since not all injuries can be easily avoided, it is important to recognize the signs and symptoms of concussion. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers a fact sheet for parents and coaches to help ensure the health and safety of young athletes.
“I advise that if you suspect a concussion, the athlete should be removed from play until cleared by a medical professional,” says Dr. Lessman.
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