Mouth guards and special helmets marketed to help reduce concussions may not provide additional protection for football players, according to a new report. The findings come from a 2012 study that tracked 1,332 high school athletes over the course of a season.
Researchers from the University of Wisconsin followed football players from grades 9 through 12 at 36 high schools across the country. They compared players wearing custom mouthguards and helmets with those wearing standard gear. Nearly 10% of the players they tracked suffered injuries during the season.
University at Buffalo Concussion Management Clinic medical director John Leddy discusses the report’s findings.
“What they found over the course of that year was that there was no difference in the concussion case whether you had a new helmet or an old helmet or by brand of helmet. Interestingly, kids who had a custom mouth guard made actually had a higher incidence of concussion than those who only bought the store-bought type,” she said.
The study indicates that consumers should be wary of manufacturers’ claims that their products offer a higher level of protection.
“The best thing to tell kids about gear is that when you’re playing football you need to have a helmet that fits them well and they wear it correctly all the time, and wear some sort of mouth guard to protect their teeth,” Leddy said. .
Leddy agrees that there is no current evidence that one piece of equipment is better than another at reducing concussion risk.