The School Newspaper of Winston Churchill High School.

The Observer

The School Newspaper of Winston Churchill High School.

The Observer

The School Newspaper of Winston Churchill High School.

The Observer

Atheletes use preventive equipment against concussions

Concussions and other head injuries have been a persistent problem among contact-sport-playing athletes.  In response, many of these athletes are now taking more preventive measures to protect themselves against dangerous head injuries.

Protective headbands, mouth guards and special helmets are some of the examples of new gear made to protect athletes against concussions.  Various companies have developed innovative technology to protect athletes in a comfortable and easy way. 

“I completely forget that I’m wearing the head gear,” said senior varsity soccer player Rachel Marincola of her protective headband. “I doesn’t get in my way at all.”

A common brand of this gear is Brain-Pad, a company that creates impact protective mouth guards and impact protective head and wristbands that are commonly worn by football and basketball players. 

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According to the Brain-Pad website, the special mouth guards, unlike traditional mouth guards, reposition and secure the athlete’s lower jaw in a down and forward position which creates a “safety space.” When the athlete receives a blow to the lower jaw, the molars and the Brain-Pad mouth guard absorb the impact energy, and the safety space prevents the lower jaw from impacting the base of the skull. 

Another common brand of gear is Full 90, which is specifically for soccer players. Full 90 sells head straps that cover an athlete’s forehead and full helmets that cover the whole head. These head covers are not only intended to protect soccer players against concussions, but other head injuries as well.  

“I started wearing the [Full 90] head gear as protection from the laceration that I got during the soccer game against WJ,” senior varsity soccer player Adela Miller said.  “The head gear was protection against the laceration re-opening and a concussion.” 

The gear has been the most popular among athletes who have had a prior head injury or concussion while playing a sport or those that have an increased risk of hitting their head while playing, such as goalies in soccer.

“I [have seen] goalies that wear it, because a many of them get concussions,” Miller said. 

According to a recent Canadian study, there was a significant decrease in the amount of concussions in soccer players that wear protective gear: “52.8 percent of participants who did not use headgear reported being injured, compared to 26.9 percent of participants who did.” 
Although extra head protection for athletes may seem like a good idea, there has been much speculation over the actual effectiveness of the gear. 

“I would not personally recommend that players wear any of these items,” said Doug Schuessler, executive director of Montgomery Soccer, Inc. (MSI). “There is a lot of debate [about] their overall effectiveness and the extent to which they create a false sense of security, leading to less controlled behavior on the field.” 

Maryland teams and leagues are in discussion over whether to make this gear mandatory for all players, but as of now it is up to the athlete to decide if he or she wants to wear extra protection.
According to girls’ varsity soccer coach Haroot Hakopian, CHS has four boxes of the Full 90 headgear ready to use.  The National Federation of High School Sports, which is the rule-making body for all high school sports, has started talking about making head gear a requirement, so there is a good chance that protective head gear will be required within the next few years. 

“It doesn’t hurt to have more protection, especially when it is so easy to do,” Marincola said.

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Atheletes use preventive equipment against concussions