No good evidence that mouthguards and helmets ward off concussion

Mouthguards and helmets can help ward off other serious head and facial injuries, but there is no good evidence that they can help prevent concussion, and paradoxically, they may even encourage players to take greater risks.

But that is precisely why it is so important to recognise and treat concussive symptoms promptly, says the on in Sport, published in the .

The Consensus Statement is the fourth revision of recommendations first developed in 2001 in Vienna, in a bid to offer some practical and evidence based guidance to healthcare professionals on the on-field assessment of the condition, and one of the most important aspects of its treatment - the timing of return to play.

In high profile sports team doctors are under pressure to get players back into competition as quickly as possible. But safe return to play after concussion is a key issue across all sports, irrespective of whether they are played at elite level.

This latest version of the Consensus Statement, which has the backing of the International Olympic Committee, FIFA, the International Equestrian Federation, and the International Rugby Board, was drawn up after a two day meeting in Zurich, Switzerland, in November last year.

Over the course of the two days, researchers from around the world were invited to present the latest findings on this common type of , which has the potential to cause long term if not dealt with appropriately, particularly in sports, such as football, rugby, ice hockey, horse riding, skiing, and boxing, where the risk of concussion is high.

A panel of 32 international experts then distilled the research - details of which are published in the current and (IPHP) issue of the British Journal of - until complete agreement was reached.

The Consensus has been designed to raise awareness of concussion among the public, so for the first time includes a concussion recognition tool (CRT).

And it clarifies the definition of concussion to emphasise that a player does not have to lose consciousness before being considered concussed and therefore removed from play. Symptoms of concussion can range from headache and memory loss to irritability, slowed reaction times, and sleep disturbance, it says.

It contains a new focus on the assessment and management of concussion in kids, who should not be returned to play the same day and who may require longer to heal than adults, it says.

And it provides a useful Q&A, a handy pocket symptom checker and assessment tool, as well as advice on medico-legal considerations and injury prevention.

It makes clear that mouthguards and helmets have a role in minimising injuries and are to be recommended, but emphasises: "There is no good clinical evidence that currently available protective equipment will prevent concussion."

"An important consideration in the use of protective equipment is the concept of risk compensation…where the use of [this] equipment results in behavioural change, such as the adoption of more dangerous playing techniques, which can result in a paradoxical increase in injury rates," it cautions.

While the competitive/aggressive elements of some sports make them fun to play and watch, "sporting organisations should be encouraged to address violence that may increase concussion risk," it recommends.

More information: Consensus statement on concussion in sport: the 4th International Conference on Concussion in Sport held in Zurich, November 2012, doi 10.1136/bjsports-2013-092313
Zero tolerance: the future of head injury in sports, doi 10.136/bjsports-2012-092114

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

AMSSM issues position statement on sport-related concussions

Jan 07, 2013

Athletes with concussions must be held out of practice or play until all symptoms have resolved, to avoid the risk of further injury during the vulnerable period before the brain has recovered. That's among the key recommendations ...

Recommended for you

Can YouTube save your life?

10 hours ago

Only a handful of CPR and basic life support (BLS) videos available on YouTube provide instructions which are consistent with recent health guidelines, according to a new study published in Emergency Medicine Australasia, the jo ...

Doctors frequently experience ethical dilemmas

11 hours ago

(HealthDay)—For physicians trying to balance various financial and time pressures, ethical dilemmas are common, according to an article published Aug. 7 in Medical Economics.

AMGA: Physician turnover still high in 2013

11 hours ago

(HealthDay)—For the second year running, physician turnover remains at the highest rate since 2005, according to a report published by the American Medical Group Association (AMGA).

Obese or overweight teens more likely to become smokers

12 hours ago

A study examining whether overweight or obese teens are at higher risk for substance abuse finds both good and bad news: weight status has no correlation with alcohol or marijuana use but is linked to regular ...

Taking preventive health care into community spaces

13 hours ago

A church. A city park. An office. These are not the typical settings for a medical checkup. But a new nationwide study by the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research shows that providing health services in ...

User comments