N32 — August 2013 — Helmet Fitting
Intro: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports up to 170,000 young athletes go to the emergency department every year for possible traumatic brain injuries that include concussion. Many concussions happen on the football field. Experts at Mayo Clinic are teaming up with local high school coaches to make football safer. They're hosting helmet fitting sessions to teach coaches how to make sure athletes' heads are properly protected.
“Every year, thousands of young football players get concussions on the grid iron.”
15-year-old Tyler Sloan, number 17 is no stranger to concussions.
"It just felt like a big hit, until I got into the locker-room and my head started to hear, and felt nausea and I knew something wasn't right."
Tyler's dad Gary is the head football coach at the local high school. He's also president of the Minnesota Football Coaches Association. His goal in that position?
"We're trying to make the game safer."
Gary's teamed up with experts at Mayo Clinic to make sure players' helmets are in good condition and fit correctly.
"No helmet can eliminate the possibility of a concussion happening, but the idea of a properly fitted helmet is to reduce the severity of a concussion if it should happen."
Mayo Clinic athletic trainer Jim Williams demonstrates how to make sure a helmet fits the way it should. First,
"Check the helmet for any kind of cracks, any kind of loose straps or clips."
Then measure the players head one inch above the eyebrow. Next, spray the player down to simulate sweat during a game. When the helmet's on, it should be one inch above the eyebrow. If it's too low, pump air into the air bladders inside the helmet.
"Make sure chin straps go underneath the facemask. You want to make sure ear holes line up with the ears and make sure the back of the head is covered."
And the pads inside the helmet should be in good shape. Replace them if they're not.
"We want a good fit, but not one that's too tight that can cause a headache after 30 or 40 minutes on the field."
A good fit means the helmet doesn't slide around.
"You can see the skin's basically moving with the helmet, which is what we want."
Two or three days after the fitting, check it again. Every week thereafter, give it a once over.
Again, helmets will not stop concussions from happening.
"But if we can reduce them as much as possible we feel like we're doing a better job for our kids."
For Mayo Clinic News Network, I'm Vivien Williams.
Certified Athletic Trainer Jim Williams says after helmet fittings it's important for coaches, equipment managers and athletic trainers to check them every week to make sure they're in good shape and still fitting properly . Also, he says all school and sports clubs should replace helmets after 10 years of use, no matter what per manufacturer's requirements.
For more information, visit our website at…
STATIONS: Per the licensing agreement, please provide a link from your station's website to http://www.MayoClinic.org or voice tag "MayoClinic.org" for more information.