• BACK TO SCHOOL: Is refurbishing a football helmet enough to keep athletes safe?

    By: Valerie Calhoun

    Updated:

    Studies show high school football players have more concussions than in any other sport.

    FOX13 learned that all of our high schools re-use helmets. 

    It would be cost-prohibitive to buy a new one each year for each athlete because the headgear starts at $250 each.

    Some of the schools will re-use a helmet for as many as eight seasons of hard hits. 
    They are required to refurbish those helmets but, is it enough?

    Football season is here. In a world where hard hits are applauded, and tough players get the "w" there is only one thing between their skull and a critical brain injury- the helmet.


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    Many parents, like Mike Pare, said,  "We try to make sure our son has the best and latest and greatest equipment."

    But, even that is not enough.

    Dr. John Hyden is with the Campbell Clinic. He treats concussion in athletes of all ages and said, "We don't have a helmet that's going to prevent a concussion."

    Dr. Hyden said all you can do is try to make sure the helmet is the best it can be. That is difficult. 
    Cost is one reason.

    The helmets ranked the safest by Virginia Tech researches start at over $200 and go up to $2000.  
    One hard hit can knock it out of commission.

    Christian Brothers High School Football Coach Thomas McDaniel said,  "an obvious crack I can see but a lot of times there's hairline fractures in those shells that you can't see with the naked eye. “

    The National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment establishes guidelines for athletic equipment. It recommends every helmet be re-conditioned and re-certified every two years.

    Bartlett High School Football Coach Chester Ford told us, “every year we get them checked they supposed to be two years on the reconditioning.  After eight years you dispose of them and get new ones.”

    We reached out to many school districts including, Shelby, DeSoto and others. 

    We found they all follow the national standard and recondition every two years. but some like Millington and Christian Brothers...recondition “every helmet, every year."

    Coach McDaniel said, "They're going to replace all the interior, the guts, the jaw pads, any air pads that ruptured. They replace those then they scan the shell to make sure."

    The National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment: "In a helmet older than five years that has been regularly reconditioned, the only part of the helmet that is actually 5 years old is probably the shell."

    FOX13 asked Dr. Hyden if that is enough? 

    Because let's be real, most schools can't afford the expense of replacing 50-250 helmets every few years. 

    "The real answer is we don't know."

    The other factor is fit. 

    If the helmet doesn't fit right, it's not going to work. 

    Coach McDaniel summed it up: “It's just about education. Understanding that it is a tough game, injuries can happen and there's no foolproof way to guarantee you won't get a concussion.

    All we can do is fit them properly, try to practice smart and teach the proper techniques and hope for the best. "

    Here are some links to find out more about helmet safety for all sports.

    Best helmets rated by Virginia Tech researchers:

    NOCSAE standards on athletic equipment:

    Centers for Disease Control and how to FIT helmets:
     

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