Helmets are an important part of athletic equipment. Although football players and other athletes use helmets to protect against brain injuries, there are concerns that this headwear does not prevent head or brain injuries.
It is important to know the relationship between a concussion and a traumatic brain injury and where a helmet fits into preventing either occurrence.
Defining a concussion or TBI
A traumatic brain injury occurs when the brain moves rapidly back and forth within the skull. The bouncing and twisting that takes place cause chemical changes within the brain that often damage and alter the brain cells. A concussion is a type of TBI. This can come from a blow, bump or jolt to the head.
Defining the protection needed against a TBI
Football helmets or other headgear worn as protection against a head injury have a design that can protect the wearer from certain types of head injuries. The primary risks addressed by helmets are skull fractures or open head injuries.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are no helmets considered concussion-proof. A helmet does not prevent the head from moving rapidly in either direction upon impact. When the body or head is struck with enough force, the brain will still move around and slam into the sides of the skull.
Though helmets are not comprehensive protection against a TBI, wearing one reduces the risk of more serious head trauma. A helmet can prevent open wounds and broken bones, making them an important part of sports equipment.