Indiana University football kicks off in a few weeks, and the Hoosier have spent $130,000 on state-of-the-art helmets that are designed to reduce the risk of concussion. The helmets purchased years ago, have been linked to fewer concussions for the team last year, albeit the number was only slightly lower.
Chief Medical officer, Dr. Andy Hipskind, claims that the helmets are not the sole reason for a decline in concussion. He claims that concussions are not prevented by helmets, but he states that helmets can help mitigate certain factors in concussion cases.
The team purchased Riddell helmets, high-end helmets that are created using a 3D scan of the player's head. The scan is used to provide a memory foam-like padding that matches the exact head shape of the player. Each helmet is unique to the player, and when properly fitted, offers the best protection possible for the wearer.
Improperly fitting helmets do not allow for the same stability as custom-fitted helmets.
Hipskind claims that a systematic helmet fitting process can help high school players reduce concussions. He also recommends teaching players proper tackling techniques and reducing the amount of full contract drills to reduce concussions.
The report comes on the same week that long-term brain damage has been linked to football head trauma in an additional study. Brain injuiries that are football-related lead to a higher risk of dementia and neurological disease.
The findings were part of a study where 180 brains, all donated by former professional players, were studied. Prior to their deaths, all of the players exhibited chronic traumatic encephalopathy or CTE. Nearly two-thirds of the players suffered from dementia.
Studies on the brains found that nearly 47% of players had moderate-to-severe damage in the white matter region of the brain due to repeated blows to the head. The players, nearly the same amount, also had a narrowing of the arteries.
CTE sufferers also had an accumulation of the phosphorylated tau (ptau) protein.
Researchers point out that the study shows the damage that can be caused by repeated hits to the head, but the study included only brains of players that suffer from CTE. Repeated blows to the head worsened these players' conditions. Millions of players will engage in football and other sports-related activities and never suffer from CTE.
The National Football League was involved in a player-related lawsuit which claims that the league knew of the risks of long-term brain damage and failed to protect players.