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Do Helmets Protect Players or Cause Head Injuries?

January 27, 2016 | Category: Brain Injuries

Many people believe that the only safe football game is the one that is not played, but football remains a major part of U.S. sports. Every year, countless children beg their concerned parents to let them sign up for football. As long as the game remains the country's most popular sport, children want to play.

Often times, a Los Angeles brain injury lawyer will handle concussion cases or deal with other head injuries, including those associated with football, and it is not uncommon for questions to arise about whether helmets protect from — or contribute to — head injuries. As long as the sport continues to attract children, it is important to continue to identify all causes of head injuries related to football.

Helmet-to-Helmet Collisions Cited as Possible Causes of a Young Player's Critical Injuries

In late September 2015, The Tribune reported that the causes of head injuries that sent a young player off of the field and to the hospital were unclear. However, he was involved in at least three helmet-to-helmet blows during that game, and videos showed him rubbing his head and adjusting his helmet during the game. Eventually, non-helmet contact with another player caused him to grab his head, jog off to the sideline and collapse from life-threatening injuries.

It doesn't appear that the final contact likely caused the collapse, but the incident was still under investigation at the time of the report. Additionally, the news outlet seemed to question whether game videos showed signs of injury caused by the earlier helmet-to-helmet contact incidents during the game. This type of contact is discouraged in high school football, but the football rules do not consider it to be illegal unless it is done intentionally.

A New Helmet Design Might Reduce the Risk

According to a professor at the University of Alabama, current helmets are unsafe largely because they are designed to prevent skull fractures, while doing little to prevent, control or limit concussions. He developed new testing methods to accurately analyze concussion risks, and he is close to releasing a new helmet design to address those risks. While he has not released many details, the new helmets will appear similar to the existing ones, but the interior liners will be vastly different.

Even a perfectly-designed helmet may not release school athletic staff from the ultimate responsibility of keeping children safe during practice and games. While it is clearly not possible to prevent all injuries when playing rough sports, staff members should not rely on those children to accurately report injuries. Adult monitoring of player behavior is essential.

In a December 22 update to the story, the young player returned home from the hospital just in time to spend the holiday with his family. However, after undergoing emergency surgery and a medically-induced coma in the hospital, he spent three months in rehab after the event. Even now, he must continue additional therapy.

Might this injury have been prevented if athletic staff members or others had noticed earlier signs of injury and removed him from the game? There is no indication in the story that the parents asked this question. Still, even if they have top-level health insurance, they could face significant out-of-pocket expenses related to their child's long-term treatment.

It is not unreasonable for parents to raise liability questions when their children sustain traumatic brain injuries during sporting events. For accurate assessments of these situations, call The Rudman Law Firm APC at (844) 478-3626 / (844) 4RUDMAN, at our Los Angeles office at (213) 375-3777 or at our Studio City office (818) 769-6969.

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