Each day more and more community members become aware of the seriousness of traumatic brain injury risks in certain sports-particularly football. At all levels, from Pee Wee games to the professional National Football Association, involved parties are working to better identify when these injuries occur and to prevent their occurring at all.
Of course, our Chicago brain injury lawyers appreciate that preventing traumatic brain injuries before they occur is vastly preferable. This is particularly true considering that there are still only minimal treatment options for serious TBIs. Stopping the harm beforehand is vastly preferable to trying to contain damage following an injury. Safety equipment changes may offer one of the best ways to meet those prevention goals. For example, a new story from Reuters explores how some are trying to take advantage of new technology to improve football equipment.
Most notably, experts are tackling the first major re-design of football helmets since the 1950s. Virtually all of the major helmet manufacturers are testing way to provide maximum protection for players. That protection requires cushioning all blows to the head. One of the newest helmet models (made by Protective Sports Equipment and The Hanson Group) includes 37 gel-filled pouches which fit over the helmet to protect against helmet to helmet hits. University testing on the pouches found that use of the gel packets reduced the amount of shock felt throughout a helmet following a hit. Of the 600 high school players who used samples of the product for the first time last year, none of them experienced a concussion during the season.
At the professional level, the NFL is working with its helmet sponsor, Riddell, to improve helmet technology. Riddell commonly makes small modifications to helmet padding to make them safer. However, the company has yet to make any large-scale changes to the overall design. Other companies are offering more drastic modifications. For example, one company is working on a product called the Thermocrown. This is a device that resembles a “bladder” and fits inside a regular helmet. Following a hard hit the bladder can be attached to a source of cooling gas to provide immediate cooling of the brain. The temperature reduction has been down to reduce the damage caused by head trauma. Another new helmet design, called the Bulwark, includes an exterior that has multiple pieces, intended to dissipate the impact of the big hits from the helmet
Each Illinois brain injury lawyer at our firm knows that in many ways that game itself is more dangerous than in the past. Training advances have led to players who are bigger, faster, and stronger. These athletes are often capable of hitting others with higher-impacts, making the risk of all injuries, including head injuries, more likely. That means that it is even more important for safety advances to progress and keep these athletes safe from both short and long-term harm. Safety must be paramount at every stage, from the child leagues up to the professional level. There is now too much irrefutable evidence for any involved group to claim ignorance of these risks.
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