On professional and amateur levels, head injuries, including concussions, are common sports injuries. Athletes of all ages and abilities wear helmets as a safety mechanism to protect against head injuries ranging from crashes to minor bumps and bruises.
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Preventing Injury With Helmets
The cranial coverage helmets provide has undoubtedly influenced the decisions of most major league sporting associations to implement wearing helmets as a mandatory practice.
From football and baseball to hockey and NASCAR auto racing, the basic components of helmets include inner and outer shells, face protection, and sometimes side flaps.
While helmets can provide protection from, injuries including skull fractures, it is actually a common myth that helmets prevent concussion. An estimated 1.8 to 3.6 million concussions occur per year in the United States in sports and recreational activities, even when athletes wear helmets.
Since a concussion involves the shaking of the brain much like an egg yolk in an egg shell, padding alone cannot prevent this dangerous motion. In fact, helmets have shown to protect against skull fracture and severe traumatic brain injury but there is little evidence that helmets reduce the incidence of concussion.
It is important to wear helmets while participating in all sports but remember that a well-managed concussion is the best form of prevention. If an athlete undergoes any force to the body and begins experiencing concussion symptoms at any time, seek evaluation from a medical professional trained in concussion management.
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About Sports Medicine
Sports and physical activity bring with them a potential for injury. If you are looking to prevent, treat, or rehabilitate a sports injury – or improve athletic performance – UPMC Sports Medicine and the UPMC Sports Medicine Concussion Program can help. We serve athletes and active people of all ages and experience levels. Our experts partner with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Pittsburgh Penguins, Pitt Panthers, and about 100 other high school, college, and regional teams and events throughout Pennsylvania – working daily to build better athletes.