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Saturday, October 27, 2007

Concussion is the white elephant in the room: Safer football helmets

Years ago, as a quarterback wearing the uniform and helmet of the Harvard University football team, Vin Ferrara sustained several concussions. Now his photo appears in the newspaper, helmet in hand, again, in a very different way.

Vin has developed a radically different football helmet through his company, Xenith LLC. Instead of using foam inside the helmet to cushion impacts, this helmet uses shock absorbers filled with air. The helmet seems better at preventing concussions than are the standard foam-filled helmets. Mike Oliver, the head of the helmet certification agency, said, "Concussion is the white elephant in the room right now when it comes to helmets, and I'm cautiously optimistic about how low these numbers [from the impact tests] are."

This is important because high school athletic programs usually use reconditioned old helmets with degraded foam padding. While these helmets continue to prevent skull fractures, they fail to prevent many concussions. Studies find that 10% to 50% of high school players each season sustain concussions, whose effects range from persistent memory problems and depression to coma and death.

For example, Max Conradt, a high school player in Yachats, Oregon, was wearing a 20-year-old helmet when he sustained hits that left him comatose for two months and left him permanently impaired.

Hopefully the new helmet will keep football players safe.

Vin Ferrara had concussions, and from that experience, he developed a product to prevent others from getting the injuries he did. He joins other entrepreneur patient advocates in businesses aimed at preventing or reducing the harm of multiple sclerosis, Lou Gehrig’s disease, and other conditions, as described on this blog. Now that’s worth cheering for!

Advice: Consider if there are ways you can help others beat your disease.

Read one of our football concussion stories, or read more from the source article by Alan Schwarz in today’s New York Times.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Helmets are not the answer, they all anchor to the head the same way, the chin strap. A device developed with the N.E. Patriots is now the focus of the military because of these chin strap forces. The statistics with the Patriots confirm its affectiveness, they have had two concussions in the past two years, the Colts over twenty in the same time span. www.mahercor.com