Jan 29, 2015
Concussions: Power of Perception

In the latest head injury news, two studies recently revealed new information about how high school football players perceive concussions and the level of protection provided by modern football helmets. Meanwhile, one state legislature is considering measures to streamline the process of identifying and treating concussed athletes while another is giving parents the chance to insure against head injuries. Here’s a summary of the developments.
A new study presented at the Pediatric Academic Societies’ Annual Meeting on May 6 found that 70 percent of high school football players are aware of the symptoms of a concussion and 91 percent know the risks that come with returning to play too early after a head injury. However, of the 120 athletes surveyed, only half would remove themselves from athletic activities and tell their coaches if they were experiencing concussion symptoms.

“Athletes who had more knowledge about concussions were not more likely to report symptoms,” said study co-author Dr. Brit Anderson, a pediatric emergency medicine fellow at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. “These attitudes could leave young athletes vulnerable to injury from sports-related concussions.”

Challenging previous research, a new study done by researchers at the Center for Injury Biomechanics at Virginia Tech found that modern football helmets offered much greater protection than 1930s-era leather helmets. By placing each helmet on an anthropometric head and dropping them from varying heights and angles to simulate impacts during game play, the study found current football helmets reduced concussion risks by 45 percent when dropped from a height of 24 inches and 96 percent when dropped from 36. Contrarily, the leather helmets experienced higher peak acceleration from each drop height and couldn’t be dropped from the highest levels for fear of significantly damaging the head form inside.

South Carolina State Sen. Gerald Malloy is one of several legislators backing a bill that would create a protocol regulating the recognition and treatment of students who sustain a concussion while competing in high school athletics. It would also aim to restrict the liability faced by medical personnel who are responsible for determining whether an athlete can return to play or not.

“What we’re doing is putting in the safeguards as best we can for our student-athletes, and I think it’s the best thing for our state,” said Malloy.

The bill is headed to the Senate for debate.

A bill proposing a public school pilot program to allow parents to buy extra concussion insurance for student-athletes in football and girls’ soccer has taken a step further in the Texas legislature. It has been approved by the House and will likely head to the Senate for further consideration. Although student-athletes are already covered by their school district, this bill will give parents the opportunity to purchase supplemental insurance for around $5.

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