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Hockey helmets not shown to prevent concussions

We are part of The Trust Project.

This letter is written to clarify confusion about ice hockey helmets and concussions. At the present time, there is NO scientific evidence to prove that a hockey helmet can prevent a concussion.

Regardless of the helmet design or brand name, the brain moves within the skull when a player is hit in the head or anywhere else on the body. A quality hockey helmet, if worn properly, will protect the player from injuries such as lacerations and skull fractures when their head strikes the ice or is hit with a stick or flying puck.

At the 2010 Mayo Clinic Ice Hockey Summit, helmet manufacturers were represented and participated in the scientific discussions. All summit constituents (engineers, sport scientists, physicians, players, coaches and officials) agreed that more concussion research is needed. We applaud current efforts by companies and organizations striving to reduce concussion risk.

Many hockey equipment store personnel are well informed about helmets and may suggest a preferred brand. Despite their personal reasons for recommending a specific helmet for you or your child, please remember: Current hockey helmet designs do not prevent concussions.

Health care providers at the Mayo Clinic Sports Medicine Center have evaluated 170 concussed athletes in the past three months. These athletes were injured while participating in a variety of sports, including soccer (no helmet), football (wearing a well secured helmet) and hockey (wearing a variety of helmet brands, including those that claim to help prevent concussions).

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Therefore, we should focus on what we can control, such as behavioral factors that place our young athletes at increased risk. We should insist that all players securely fasten their helmet and respect their opponent. This means a zero tolerance for head hits, checks from behind, fighting or locker room boxing. Players need to be taught body control skills, on-ice awareness, and proper techniques for receiving and delivering firm, legal body contact. We need to stress skill development, competition, friendship and fun! At its best, hockey is a wonderful, exciting game! Have a great season!

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