Do Helmets Really Protect Your Child Athlete?

There’s no question that helmets save lives by preventing skull fractures and other lethal brain injuries.  But according to a 2013 report on youth sports-related concussions by the Institute of Medicine and the National Research Council, “there is limited evidence that current helmet designs reduce the risk of sports-related concussions.” Concussions can lead to long-term neurological problems including depression, chronic traumatic encephalopathy and chronic cognitive impairment.

Therefore, just because your child is wearing a helmet in sports does not mean they are protected against concussions or long term brain injury.  Pre-game and practice drills where children are banging their helmeted heads against one another should be banned.

Sadly, statistics suggest that concussions are becoming more common among kids.  One recent study reported a doubling in concussion-related ER visits by youths between 1997 and 2007.  Surprisingly, concussion rates are actually higher among young female athletes than young male athletes in the same sports.  Rest is very important if a concussion occurs because if an individual with a concussion hits their heads again before being fully healed they could suffer brain swelling and even die.

While helmets will not completely prevent concussions, one should still wear one which is properly fitted. One study showed that 96 percent of them were either in inadequate condition or didn’t fit properly. They typically rested too high on the forehead or the helmets moved around too much on the kids’ heads.

Bottom line, have your child wear a properly fitted helmet when engaging in contact sports.  Avoid any head to head contact.  If there is any question that your child is acting differently after suffering trauma to the head, have them rest and seek immediate medical attention.

The Law Offices of Steven S. Farbman is always interested in the safety for the members of our community.  We welcome your thoughts on this controversial subject.  As always please feel free to contact my office with any legal questions you may have.

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