Helmet Manufacturers Address Risks of Traumatic Brain Injuries

An important article published in the New York Times last week indicates that the manufacturers of football helmets are moving to address problems in the way their products are used – a move that could benefit many young athletes in a time when traumatic brain injuries stemming from football and other rough sports are an issue of increasing concern.

According to the newspaper, “the National Athletic Equipment Reconditioners Association (Naera) announced (last) Thursday that is would no longer accept helmets more than 10 years old.” As the paper notes, many schools regularly send football helmets in for reconditioning, but concerns have been rising that as the products age it can become difficult if not impossible to bring the gear back to a point where it meets appropriate safety standards. Under current standards, the paper notes, so long as the equipment met applicable safety standards when it was new “helmets of any age and condition can be worn, despite concerns over how the stiffening of foam and the degrading of the polycarbonate shell can leave a player more susceptible to concussions.”
Though the article does not say this, it appears that football helmet manufacturers and reconditioners may be taking a cue from the ski industry. For several decades the manufacturers of ski bindings have indemnified their products for a finite period of years (usually 10 or 12). Once that period expires, skiers quickly discover that few ski techs will agree to make even minor adjustments to the bindings. A cynic might say the companies are forcing skiers to purchase new equipment on a regular basis, but the policy also ensures that the vast majority of skiers are using relatively up-to-date equipment – an important consideration in such a potentially dangerous sport.

The new football helmet standards have the potential to offer significant peace of mind to Portland-area parents who fear concussions and other Oregon traumatic brain injuries when their children participate in contact sports.

Oregon personal injury attorneys are likely to keep a close eye on the new standards. We must all ensure that schools and others running youth sports are paying attention and using the tools the industry is giving them to help fight the battle against Oregon brain injuries.

The New York Times: Group to phase out old football helmets