Concussions hit local head(lines)

Would you let your child ride on an old, dilapidated carnival ride with a busted safety bar? How about buckle them into a second-generation car seat with fraying, nylon straps?

When the examples are this extreme, the answers are obvious. But what about those situations where safety equipment’s reliability is less clear-cut? For instance, did you know that the age of your child’s helmet may drastically effect its ability to protect the wearer?

Addressing these concerns (and others), the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association recently issued new sports safety guidelines for the 2011-2012 season. Noticeable changes include stricter standards regarding the age and safety of players’ helmets, players that suffer a hit to the head will need medical clearance before returning to play and improved training for coaches, trainers and other adults involved in youth athletics.

William Meehan, MD, director of Children’s Hospital Boston’s Sports Concussion Clinic says the guidelines represent an increased public awareness about the dangers of concussions and will hopefully go a long way in making local youth sports safer for everyone involved. “The new guidelines are definitely a step in the right direction,” he says. “It’s a huge development for the state of Massachusetts.”

To discuss these changes Meehan was recently interviewed for Fox News.

Preventing concussions in High School sports: MyFoxBOSTON.com

Meehan says helmets, like any other piece of equipment, suffer wear and tear over time, which eventually affects performance. “The inside layer of foam in many of these helmets compresses with every impact,” he says. “Over time the springiness and density of that foam changes. It’s get worn down and eventually doesn’t diminish the force of the hit like a newer helmet would.”

For more information on the subject, please join Dr. Meehan, Marc R. Proctor, MD, director of our Brain Injury Center, and a multidisciplinary team from Children’s, as they discuss concussions in pediatric patients during a live, interactive Webcast. Catch “Tackling Concussions Head On” September 12th at 6 PM ET. To sign-up for the presentation and receive a reminder email, please click here.