At Issue: Concussions & Helmets - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

At Issue: Concussions & Helmets

Posted: Updated:
WATERBURY, Vt. -

The new study on concussions does not say that student athletes should stop wearing safety equipment, but it does suggest that headgear -- like helmets -- might not help as much as we think.

Reports of sports-related concussions have been rising, and a new study from the Institute of Medicine says what many experts have already been noticing: That equipment often touted for head safety -- like helmets -- can only go so far.

"People often come to me and say well does my kid need a better helmet or do they need to wear a headband in soccer or a padded helmet and the truth is I tell them that helmets are good but helmets' limitations are sort-of protecting you against big injuries -- skull fractures. They don't seem to be able to protect you against concussions," says Sports Medicine Physician Matt Gammons.

So while the helmet, face mask, mouthguard, or other gear may help to stop something from breaking, it can't stop the brain from sloshing around in your head if you're hit. And that, experts say, is what causes the concussions.

"But we still haven't really come up with data to say this is the concussion threshold, these are the forces directly causing the concussion. So it makes it very difficult for an engineer to sit with a helmet and say, okay, we can make this concussion proof or better if we don't really know what those forces are," Gammons says.

The report recommends a national system to better track concussions, and says more research is needed to figure out whether better headgear might be an answer. And it also says there isn't enough data about athletes at younger ages, something local experts agree with.

"At every grade level have some sort of sample that says here's what happens. But the thing to remember about brain injury is you can't apply a cookie-cutter approach," says Barb Winters with the Brain Injury Association of Vermont.

Because each person's brain is unique, it's hard to pinpoint exact effects of head impacts or treatment plans. And it can be hard to diagnose concussions, since it primarily relies on the individual to identify their symptoms instead of using objective diagnostic markers. And because many athletes don't want to be taken out of play, they ignore their symptoms.

"Culturally we need to say to kids, going back to the game isn't worth it," Winters says.

Some sports were singled out. For high school and college men, the concussion rates were higher for football, ice hockey, and lacrosse. For women, lacrosse is also on the list, as well as soccer and basketball.

Some symptoms of concussion include vomiting, dizziness, and vision problems. For more resources, you can visit the Brain Injury Association of Vermont's website: http://biavt.org

  • Local NewsMore>>

  • Winooski man killed in motorcycle accident

    Winooski man killed in motorcycle accident

    Thursday, April 17 2014 11:12 PM EDT2014-04-18 03:12:18 GMT
    There's been a tragedy on the Burlington beltway Thursday night. Police confirm that a 24-year-old Winooski man was killed in a motorcycle crash that shutdown the beltway. The name has been releasedMore >>
    Burlington Police confirm that a 24-year-old Winooski man was killed in a motorcycle crash that shutdown the beltline.More >>
  • Stowe couple dead in murder-suicide

    Stowe couple dead in murder-suicide

    Thursday, April 17 2014 11:08 PM EDT2014-04-18 03:08:04 GMT
    Police say two people found dead at a home in Stowe are believed to have died in a murder-suicide. Police are still not releasing their names or the cause of death, but they say the victims are adults. StoweMore >>
    A Stowe couple is dead after what police say was a murder-suicide. The news came as a shock to neighbors who say they never noticed any red flags.
    More >>
  • Leicester man charged with shootings appears in court

    Leicester man charged with shootings appears in court

    Thursday, April 17 2014 6:58 PM EDT2014-04-17 22:58:26 GMT
    A man charged with shooting his neighbor and two Vermont State Police officers was in court Thursday in Middlebury. Timothy Foley did appear in court Thursday in Middlebury. He wasn't there last time,More >>
    A man charged with shooting his neighbor and two Vermont State Police officers was in court Thursday in Middlebury.More >>
  • Woman sentenced in Vt. crash that killed motorcyclist

    Woman sentenced in Vt. crash that killed motorcyclist

    Thursday, April 17 2014 11:26 AM EDT2014-04-17 15:26:34 GMT
    A 79-year-old woman accused of causing the death of a motorcyclist in Vermont last year has pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of careless or negligent operation and has received a suspended sentence of six to...More >>
    A 79-year-old woman accused of causing the death of a motorcyclist in Vermont last year has pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of careless or negligent operation and has received a suspended sentence of six to 12 months.More >>
  • Man charged in Vt. cruiser crushing has June trial

    Man charged in Vt. cruiser crushing has June trial

    Thursday, April 17 2014 12:34 PM EDT2014-04-17 16:34:06 GMT
    A Vermont man accused of crushing seven sheriffs' vehicles with a farm tractor is scheduled for trial in June.More >>
    A Vermont man accused of crushing seven sheriffs' vehicles with a farm tractor is scheduled for trial in June.More >>
  • Teen arrested in St. Albans bomb threat

    Teen arrested in St. Albans bomb threat

    Thursday, April 17 2014 12:05 PM EDT2014-04-17 16:05:16 GMT
    A teenager has been arrested for making a bomb threat in St. Albans. Police say the threat was made to Project SOAR, an alternative school, Wednesday morning. The building was searched and no bomb wasMore >>
    Police say a teenager has been arrested for allegedly making a bomb threat to an alternative school in St. Albans.More >>
  • Missing Rutland woman found safe

    Missing Rutland woman found safe

    Thursday, April 17 2014 12:05 PM EDT2014-04-17 16:05:01 GMT
    A missing elderly woman from Rutland has been found safe in Burlington. Police say Grace Maddaloni, 88, disappeared Wednesday after what they called a "disagreement." Because of her age and being in theMore >>
    A missing elderly woman from Rutland has been found safe in Burlington.More >>
  • Big buyer for Big Blue?

    Big buyer for Big Blue?

    Thursday, April 17 2014 7:07 PM EDT2014-04-17 23:07:19 GMT
    IBM and chip production may soon be parting ways. The Wall Street Journal reports that Big Blue is looking to unload three chipmaking plants-- two in upstate New York and its Vermont plant in Essex Junction.More >>
    With indications IBM may sell off its chipmaking plants, we talked to the company experts say may buy them. GlobalFoundries already has employees working at IBM in Essex Junction through a partnership, and experts say that could help the company decide whether the plant is a worthy investment.More >>
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 WorldNow and WCAX. All Rights Reserved. For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.