Not Necessarily…But It’s Still a Very Good Idea
According to national studies, about two million athletes suffer some type of concussion in the United States every year. Many safety advocates have called for mandatory helmet laws and rules, arguing that many or most concussions could be avoided with proper equipment. Unfortunately, there’s little evidence to support that assertion. Nonetheless, a helmet is a good choice in almost every type of contact sport.
Understanding What a Concussion Is and What Causes It
A concussion is typically considered a mild traumatic brain injury (MTBI), although it can become very serious very quickly, if not properly treated. A concussion occurs when there’s a bump or any type if impact to the head. The impact causes the brain to move rapidly back and forth inside the skull, often causing trauma as the brain collides with the hard bone of the skull. That trauma can lead to inflammation and swelling, which can become serious as the brain pushes against the skull.
A helmet, while it will protect from cuts, and scratches, and may even prevent a skull fracture, typically won’t cushion the brain and the head in a way that prevents the brain from jostling around, unless the bump is really minor. A helmet can, however, minimize the risk of “brain bleeds,” where a contusion or laceration in the brain causes the skull cavity to accumulate blood. That can also lead to unhealthy pressure on the brain.
It is important to understand, though, that many protective helmets are not designed for significant durability. For example, a bicycle helmet is typically good for one hard hit, then should be replaced. The same holds true for skating and skateboarding helmets. Snowboarding and skiing helmets, though, are intended to handle multiple impacts.
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