Preventing Concussions: Helmets, Mouthguards And Military Spending

Source: insidescience.org | Re-Post Duerson Fund 11/20/2017 – 

Benjamin Franklin once said that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure — words of wisdom that ring as true in today’s fields of public health as they did in the streets of colonial Philadelphia. The burden of accident and injury is cheaper to deal with through prevention — whether in the modern hospital, the everyday workplace or the fields of competitive sports. The same is true for soldiers in a war zone. Outcomes are better. Lives may be saved. And there may be no physical insult for which this adage rings truer than that of traumatic brain injury.

“Obviously, the best-case scenario is not to sustain the concussion or TBI in the first place,” said David Okonkwo, clinical director at the UPMC Brain Trauma Research Center.

The use of technology to reduce head injuries in professional football has a long history dating to the emergence of college football in the late 19th century. Padded leather helmets were developed after the turn of the century to protect players against skull fractures. Over the decades this same technology improved: stronger materials, innovations like chin straps, and the development and evolution of face masks. But how much protection is enough?

“We don’t see skull fractures in football, but what we do see is that even in a helmet, your brain still moves around quite a bit within the skull, and that’s how you suffer the concussion,” said Mark Proctor, neurosurgeon-in-chief at Boston Children’s Hospital.

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