As the concussion crisis in sports has brought increased attention to the long-term consequences of traumatic brain injury, new problems have also arisen. Specifically, a whole new market has arisen promising to protect athletes from concussions and miraculously improve brain injured athletes’ recoveries.
From herbal supplements, helmet innovations, and now a so-called “super-milk”, there’s a never ending parade of products that are marketed as incredible solutions to the countless athletes who experience concussions every year. The problem is there’s little to no science to back them up.
The most recent miracle “treatment” for brain injuries is called “Fifth Quarter Fresh” – a chocolate milk supposedly fortified with proteins and nutrients that help “high school football players improve their cognitive and motor function over the course of a season, even after experiencing concussions.”
The product received a big boost in December when the University of Maryland published an incredible press release highlighting research that supposedly supports these claims. Only, no one has been able to track down the researchers who conducted this study, or any formal report.
New York Magazine writer Jesse Singal dove into the growing scandal over the claims published by the University of Maryland and the lack of documentation to back them. Even more, journalists have discovered potential conflicts of interest that suggest the very makers of the product funded the study being used to promote the product.
To get an idea of the impact this study has already had, consider the rural school superintendent in Maryland who made a public pledge to buy “$25,000 worth” of the product to give to his students in the coming year.
Improving concussion prevention and treatment in school athletes is an important step to protect the brains of young athletes, but the truth is that researchers are still quite a ways away from producing anything capable of effectively reducing the risks of concussions. While some products are quick to promote the unbelievable benefits of their products, it is crucial to remember that many of these are actually too good to be true.