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Does safety equipment help or hinder in the prevention of concussions?

There’s no such thing as a “concussion-proof” helmet. The helmet may protect the exterior of the skull from cuts and bruising. But inside the skull, the brain floats in fluid and when enough force is applied, the brain can experience an injury at the point of contact and on the opposite side from a rebound. The brain is a sensitive organ housed inside a skull with shelfs and ridges, so the helmet cannot prevent concussion.
 
Additionally, as absurd as it may sound, studies have shown that safety equipment could be one of the reasons concussions occur! People adjust their behavior in response to the perceived level of risk. They become more careful when they sense greater risk and less careful if they feel more protected. This is known as “risk compensation.”
 
When an athlete, especially youth athletes, put on their protective equipment it can lead to a feeling of invincibility. The athlete now is more likely to engage in risky behavior because of a confidence that the gear will protect him from injury.
 
It is vital for coaches and parents to be aware of the phenomenon of “risk compensation” and communicate to their athletes that the use of protective gear should not be a reason to take more risks or be more aggressive. Coaches should also teach and stress the use of proper techniques (i.e. tackling lower) that reduce the level of risk to the brain.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.