In recent years, the dangers associated with high school sports and concussions have been in the spotlight. In 2011, New York State enacted The Concussion Management and Awareness Act which outlines rules and procedures that schools must follow when a student athlete is believed to have suffered a concussion.
Students who play contact sports are especially at risk of suffering concussions and a 2013 study, which was conducted by the Institute of Medicine, showed that “high school football players are nearly twice as likely to sustain a concussion as are college players.” Young and developing brains are especially vulnerable when impacted by a concussion and repeated concussions have been linked to memory loss, depression, early-onset Alzheimer’s disease and a neurodegenerative condition known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy or CTE.
While the state’s concussion laws have improved the rates at which concussions are identified and treated in young football players, more attention must be paid to finding ways to prevent concussions from occurring in the first place. Engineers from The University of Michigan Ann Arbor are hopeful that their design for a new football helmet may hold the key to preventing or reducing the number of players who suffer traumatic brain injuries.
In response to the NFL-sponsored Head Health Challenge, two Michigan engineers and one engineering graduate student designed a helmet to reduce the amount of kinetic energy that travels “through the skull and into the brain” when two or more players collide. Containing “three layers of polymers,” the helmet is designed to absorb and shed much of the kinetic energy that is produced during a collision before it reaches a player’s head and brain.
While instituting new safety rules and designing better helmets can go a long way towards reducing the numbers of football players who suffer concussions, such injuries are still bound to occur and, at times, these injuries may warrant legal action.
Source: The Society for Science & The Public: Student Sciences,”New football helmets could limit brain injuries,” Kathiann Kowalski, Feb. 22, 2016
The University of the State of New York: THE STATE EDUCATION DEPARTMENT, “Guidelines for Concussion Management in the School Setting,” June, 2012