Traumatic brain injuries affect thousands of people in Pennsylvania each year, most commonly as a result of car accidents, falls or sports injuries. Serious brain injuries can change a person’s life forever, especially if the injury is not treated right away.
In recent years, brain injuries have received a lot of media attention after famous football players have come forward admitting that concussions they suffered in the past have left them with permanent brain damage.
Of course, it isn’t just the professional athletes who are at risk of concussions while playing a sport. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that 3.8 million sports-related concussions occur to all levels of athletes each year in the United States.
However, as college and professional football players have become bigger and more powerful over the years, the hits have become much more dangerous.
Another problem is that the helmets that protect these players have not really changed since the 1950s. Recently though, football helmet manufacturers and independent designers have been testing new and improved helmets for all levels of the sport, intended to cushion the blow of hard hits.
Different companies are working on a variety of adaptations to the basic helmets, including everything from air-filled pads rather than foam to an insert that acts like an ice pack. Additionally, one high school football team recently experimented with a helmet cover filled with gel pockets that is meant to absorb impact.
A spokesman for the NFL said that players are allowed to choose any helmet they want that meets an industry standard. The spokesman also said that the NFL is “encouraging all helmet manufacturers to continue to improve helmets.”
But some feel that the NFL should have done more to protect the players in the past. In fact, more than 100 former NFL players who suffer from concussion-related brain injuries have sued the NFL, alleging that the league knew how dangerous these hard hits could be but didn’t act.
Source: Reuters, “Football turns to helmet technology to tackle head injuries,” Scott Malone, April 2, 2012