Take a second to consider that there was a time when football was played without a helmet. Of course, now you need a helmet just to compete in cycling and baseball, but helmets haven’t been as common as they are now for very long at all.
As they’ve gotten more popular, the design of helmets has obviously increased, and there are helmet makers now claiming that their helmet can almost entirely prevent concussions. Riddell, the largest helmet supplier to the NFL doesn’t make such boisterous claims, but they did go as far as to ask for in-game timeouts to inspect possibly damaged helmets which might not be properly doing their jobs.
Traumatic brain injury has only recently become a huge concern, but helmet makers have been striving to best protect athletes’ heads for decades. However, all of that effort may be making the problem worse. According to recent studies, the false sense of security helmets provide may actually be causing more injuries.
RedOrbit writer Peter Sucio says that while helmets and mouth guards can help prevent serious head and facial injuries, so far there is little evidence helmets can prevent traumatic brain injury. This could be related to the recent findings that even “sub-concussive” hits can cause physical brain damage.
Unfortunately, the false sense of safety helmets create also lead players to take larger risks. Without the helmets, the same plays could lead to serious physically visible facial and head injury, but players also believe the helmets will stop many concussions, which seems to be false.