Jan 29, 2015
Safety or False Sense of Security?

By Patrick Bohn

Following the release of a consensus statement from 4th International Conference on Concussion in Sport, held in Zurich, Switzerland in November, research has emerged that mouthguards and helmets may create a false sense of security in regard to head injuries. Additionally, overseas, the Australian Rules Football league is pondering data from the conference as it considers changes to concussion assessment and substitution rules.
While mouthguards and helmets are important equipment when it comes to injury prevention, they may cause players who wear them to falsely believe they are protected against concussions. A report published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine says that players can put their health at risk if they rely too much on safety equipment to protect them from injuries, including concussions.

“You can’t just assume that adding more protection is getting the desired effect of decreased injury,” Dr. Karen Johnston, a neurosurgeon at the University of Toronto and one of the authors of the report, told The Toronto Star. “It’s not as black and white as we might think it is.”

Australian Rules Football (AFL) may make changes to its guidelines based on data on children obtained at the Zurich conference. One proposed change would require “medical supervision of any follow-up self-assessment tests conducted by players in the days after a potential concussion,” while another would require club doctors rely on video replays on injuries to help identify a possible concussion.

Another potential change to AFL guidelines based on information from the Zurich conference is based on sound return-to-play procedures. Following a suspected concussion, the recommendation calls for players to wait 10 minutes before undergoing testing. This may result in a tweaking of the substitution rules, where a player can be substituted for and then reinserted into games if testing proves he did not suffer a concussion.

Patrick Bohn is an Assistant Editor at Training & Conditioning.


This is something I have been saying for a while. Though we appreciate the technology and better equipment. The American football community has not address the issue of what is causing these injuries.

It is leading with the head. Making a tackle leading with your head. There is no accountability for coaches as to how we teach tackling.

As the father who’s son suffered a catastrophic spinal cord injury and the Founder of Gridiron Heroes and still love the game. We have calling for a National tackling certification program for all coaches at every level.

Now here is the rest of the story. Gridiron Heroes documentary was shown to the NFL by our friend Peter Berg, movie director of Friday Night Lights. Our doc introduced Coach Bobby Hosea who has been teaching his evidence base tackling program since 1997. His tackling program compared to our regular “Wrap ’em Up” method indicated it would reduce the Helmet First Impact by at least 43% that is 100% of the crown taken out of the tackle.

The NFL and their youth partners USA Football have adopted Bobby Hosea’s tackling program. Our doc is making the Film Festival Rounds. It could be called The film that saved football.

While everyone has concentrated on better equipment,helmets, mouth guards, helmet covers ect…, training for coaches to recognize a concussion, and secondary impact, no one address the fact that the cause for a majority of these injuries is that over the years, we did not know that we were instructing our athletes to lead with their heads.

In the case of football, words do hurt. Example terms we use today. Bite the Ball, Head in between the numbers, ear hole em, wrap em up. If we think about what we are instructing our athletes to we are asking them to lead with their heads.

Science now tells us we need to change how we have been teaching tackling.

Here some straight talk about what we are doing. Scroll down to the 30 min mark for our interview.


– Eddie Canales
Founder / Director
Gridiron Heroes Spinal Cord Injury Foundation
2011 Top Ten CNN Hero

Shop see all »

75 Applewood Drive, Suite A
P.O. Box 128
Sparta, MI 49345
website development by deyo designs
Interested in receiving the print or digital edition of Training & Conditioning?

Subscribe Today »

Be sure to check out our sister sites: