Safety Helmets for Athletes to Protect from Concussion and TBI

Nancy Harris Bonk Health Guide December 12, 2011
  • Suffering from Migraines and/or headaches isn't uncommon after a traumatic brain injury. David Wright, third baseman for the Mets, sustained a traumatic brain injury (TBI) in August 2009. He was hit in the head, just above the ear, with a baseball traveling 94 miles an hour. Wright immediately fell to the ground, and was immobile. Trainers from the team ran out to assess him, helping him sit up. Eventually, he was able to walk off the field - with assistance. He was taken to the hospital by ambulance where he was evaluated and held overnight for observation. The CT scan performed came back negative (which is typical in these types of injuries) and he was released the next day with post concussion syndrome. Wright wanted to play in the next game, but was unable to as he was still experiencing headaches. He was put on the disabled list (DL) for 15 days. It is imperative the brain has enough time to recover from a TBI. Recovery time depends on when the person is symptom free. If symptoms persist with activity, more recuperation is needed.

     

    As soon as Wright was symptom-free and cleared by his doctors to play, he was back. When he was up to bat the first time, he wore a new protective helmet - the S100 by Rawlings. This helmet is able to withstand pitches thrown at up to 100 miles an hour. However, it was heavy, cumbersome and uncomfortable for Wright, so he only wore it once. In addition, his teammates and the public mocked him for wearing it. There isn't a professional athlete in the world who is going to wear protective gear to be mocked by his teammates and the public, even if it means putting their health in danger.

     

    In 2010, the minor leagues made it mandatory for players to wear the new protective helmets. In 2013, Wright and his major league teammates are going to have to accept the helmet and wear it. This is due to baseball's collective bargaining agreement that was just signed on December 1, 2011. The agreement includes a mandatory helmet safety rule and states, "By 2013, all Major League players will wear a new batting helmet developed by Rawlings that protects against pitches thrown at 100 miles per hour. The new version of the helmet is significantly less "bulky" than prior versions of the more protective helmet." 

     

    Here's what's troubling. Why do athletes have to be mandated to wear protective gear? Is it because they don't look good enough or cool enough with the gear on? There are thousands of young athletes and children who look up to these professionals and view them as heroes. They would be doing a great service to youth sports and traumatic brain injury education if they would wear gear without complaint. Why not make it "cool" to be safe. With the tremendous amount of new data coming out, sports figures need to concern themselves with how their sports are played, how they protect themselves during play and the impact they have on children, the athletes of tomorrow. 

     

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    Sources:

     

    Calcaterra, Carl. "DWI policy, maple bats, new helmets all part of collective bargaining agreement." NBC Sports. HardBallTalk. November 22, 2011.   

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    ESPN.com news services."Wright beaned, sustains concussion." New York, New York. ESPN. MLB. August 16, 2009.

     

    ESPN.com news services. "Mets' Wright released from hospital." New York, New York. ESPN. MLB. August 17, 2009.

     

    Singer, Tom. "Reinforced helmet debuting around Majors. Withstands 100 mph pitches; mandatory in Minors in '10." MLB.Com. News. Events. August 31, 2009.

     

    Thanks for reading, and feel well,

    NancySig

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    Visit my blog, Migraine and Other Headache Disorders

     

    ©HealthCentral Network, 2011.
    Last updated December 12, 2011.

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