Helmet Safety Concussions
It’s Football Season – and Helmet Safety, Concussion Are Foremost on Parents’ Minds
As football season descends upon us in early September, the thoughts of many wander to the game. In the case of children’s football, chances are parents are focusing a lot more of their thinking on helmet safety and the harms that can arise from concussion, as New York’s Attorney General chose this to be among his hot-button issues. He recently issued a consumer alert to underscore the need for helmet safety as well as the ability to recognize and treat concussions. He added an extra message aimed at football helmet manufacturers, noting that, despite whatever hype consumers may hear, no helmet is concussion proof.
Giving the topics of helmet safety and concussion dangers extra juice this year, is the fact that the professional sport of football in general has been under fire following the suicides of several professional players; doctors blamed all their deaths, ultimately, on chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a brain disease believed to be linked to repeated head trauma, according to NewsMax. Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher first killed his girlfriend before taking his own life earlier this year. Last May, NFL veteran Junior Seau died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to his chest. His suicide followed the deaths of Dave Duerson, Terry Long and Andre Waters.
The AG’s warning also comes about a month after the NFL reached a proposed $765 million settlement with thousands of professional former players who are part of ongoing litigation against the league over its handling of concussions, as reported by the New York Times, among many other newspapers. The agreement includes compensation for cognitive injuries, the funding of medical exams for retirees, and research.
New York State’s AG Issues Helmet Safety Alert, Focuses on Manufacturers
New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman issued the consumer safety alert on Thursday, Sept. 5, warning that claims by equipment makers that helmets have "anti-concussive" properties can’t be relied upon, especially by parents of children football players.
“Football helmets were developed to protect against massive head trauma, but unfortunately, we’re seeing more evidence they have not been designed to prevent less immediately catastrophic injuries like concussions,” Long Island Republican State Senator Kemp Hannon added in a press release. “Despite some helmets being labeled ‘anti-concussion,’ this isn’t necessarily the case."
Hannon sponsored state legislation that took effect last year requiring coaches, teachers and other appropriate personnel to be trained about the symptoms of mild traumatic brain injuries and the importance of proper medical treatment.
State law also requires players be removed from play until they don't have concussion symptoms for a minimum of 24 hours – and have their doctor’s written approval to return to play.
Manufacturers Roll Out Promotions for Football Helmet Add-on Products
Some helmet manufacturers are promoting aftermarket add-ons for their football helmets — a wide assortment of products that includes liners, bumpers, pads and electronic devices. The devices are promoted as being capable of reducing the risk of concussion, notes the AG’s press release announcing the consumer alert.
No real data exists, however, to support whether such risk-reduction claims are legitimate when applied toward children, adds the AG’s release.
Football helmets are a significant business. According to the National Federation of State High School Athletic Associations, 1.1 million high school students play tackle football and 3.5 million children between the ages of 6 and 14 play in youth football leagues.
In New York State there are 35,600 high school football players, as well as far more youth league players.
The Symptoms of a Concussion – What to Look For
The AG’s statement notes that everyone should be able to recognize the signs of a potential concussion, adding that players who seem to be likely suffering from one should be taken out of the game and not allowed back on the field until they show no symptoms. Also, he says, players should be trained to have the ability to minimize head-to-head hits.
A local ABC News website outlined a list of tips from the AG regarding key things to understand on the subject of concussions:
- Players, parents and coaches must be trained to see the symptoms and risks of concussion.
- It is extremely important to recognize the signs of concussion and remove the player immediately from the game.
- New York State law requires that players be removed from play until they are asymptomatic for a minimum of 24 hours and have written approval from their physician to return to play.
- The number of concussions can be significantly reduced with modifications to practice format – such as learning to avoid head-on “collisions” on the field of play.
- Reducing the number of hits is instrumental to reducing the risk of concussion because of the cumulative risk from repeated hits. Limit the amount of contact in practice and forbid drills that involve full-speed, head-on blocking and tackling that begins with players lined up more than three yards apart.
- Players need to be trained to focus on techniques that minimize head-to-head hits. Coaches and referees must strictly enforce penalties against such behavior.
Help When a Loved One Is Hurt
If you believe that manufacturers of football helmets, bicycle helmets, motorcycle helmets or other types of helmets have made claims that convinced you that getting a certain injury, such as a concussion, was impossible, then you may have valuable legal rights. Parker Waichman LLP urges you to contact us by completing the form at right or calling us at 1-800-YOURLAWYER (1-800-968-7529).