As doctors learn more about the harmful long-term effects of concussions, new research suggests a properly fitting helmet greatly reduces the severity of injury.
In an analysis of nearly 1,400 injuries, high school football players wearing a properly fitting helmet were 82 percent less likely than those wearing an ill-fitting helmet to lose consciousness with a concussion.
Dr. Joe Torg, an orthopedic surgeon at Temple University, said helmets should be checked each week to ensure the lining is properly inflated.
“Many of these helmets are constructed with air bladders, sort of like the inner tube in a bicycle tire,” Torg said. “It is not uncommon for these air bladders to lose pressure,” causing them to fit improperly.
Paul Kelley, the athletic equipment supervisor at Temple University, said student athletes of all ages should be fitted for a helmet by a coach or someone else trained in fitting techniques.
“As the fitting’s being done, you should be telling the athlete what you’re doing and why, and how it should feel,” Kelley said. “That way when they feel it coming loose or they feel something’s not right, they can go to the equipment manager or coach right away.”
Parents can double-check fit themselves — Kelley said helmets should sit about an inch above the eyebrow, not down over the eyes.
They should be snug enough to remain in place when jostled even if the chin strap is unclasped.