Safety Add-Ons for Football Helmets May Not Cut Concussion Risk

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WEDNESDAY, Feb. 25, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- Football helmet add-ons may not reduce players' risk of concussion, a new study suggests.

These safety products include items such as soft-shell layers, spray treatments, pads and fiber sheets.

"Our study suggests that despite many products targeted at reducing concussions in players, there is no magic concussion prevention product on the market at this time," researcher John Lloyd, of BRAINS Inc. in San Antonio, Fla., said in a news release from the American Academy of Neurology.

Lloyd is a member of the American Academy of Neurology.

In the study, the researchers tested four football helmet add-ons: Guardian Cap; UnEqual Technologies' Concussion Reduction Technology; Shockstrips; and Helmet Glide.

Two brands of football helmets were outfitted with the add-ons and placed on a crash test dummy head and neck. Sensors were placed in the dummy's head to measure impacts at 10, 12 and 14 miles per hour.

Compared to helmets without add-ons, those fitted with the Guardian Cap, Concussion Reduction Technology and Shockstrips reduced linear accelerations by about 11 percent, but only reduced angular accelerations by 2 percent. Angular accelerations are believed to be the major forces involved in concussions, Lloyd explained.

Helmet Glide had no effect, according to the study that is to be presented in April at the American Academy of Neurology's annual meeting in Washington, D.C.

"Few add-on products have undergone even basic biomechanical evaluation," Lloyd said. "Hopefully, our research will lead to more rigorous testing of helmets and add-ons."

The data and conclusions of research presented at medical meetings should be viewed as preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

More information

The American Academy of Family Physicians has more about concussion.