Many helmets do little to prevent concussion

New research from the Florida Center for Headache and Sports Neurology

Published On: Feb 17 2014 01:45:31 PM EST   Updated On: Feb 17 2014 04:00:00 PM EST

A football helmet is designed to protect the head, but a new research out of Florida finds the helmet may do little to prevent a concussion.

"We think the best helmets are the ones that probably dissipate the energy the most across the helmet and not directly towards the brain" said Dr. Rick Figler, who did not take part in the study but treats concussion at Cleveland Clinic.

Researchers at Florida Center for Headache and Sports Neurology tested helmets using a crash test dummy.  They wanted to see how protective 10 popular football helmets are when sustaining repeated impacts at 12-miles per hour.

They found the helmets, on average, reduced the risk of traumatic brain injury by only 20 percent. Figler says it's useful information, but it's tough to tell how the results would translate to the field of play.

"I applaud their efforts because we need this type of research- to look at helmets in a lab to see which ones may dissipate those energy forces better, but it really has to be extrapolated to the field of play to see overall, does it decrease the incidents of concussions," said Figler.

Results show helmets are most effective at protecting against brain tissue bruising and skull fracture; reducing the risk of bruising by 70 to 80 percent and the risk of skull fracture by 60 to 70 percent. Researchers say protecting against concussion is especially important for young players because their still-developing brains are more susceptible to the effects.

Figler says helmets are a necessity in football and parents should form a checklist to ensure their child's safety.

"Every helmet fits every kid a little bit differently. So, they need to make sure it fits good, that it is in good repair, that they wear it and that they use it properly, as well," added Figler.

Read more about signs and symptoms of a concussion.