FOX19 Investigates: High school football helmet safety - Cincinnati News, FOX19-WXIX TV

FOX19 Investigates: High school football helmet safety

75 percent of football players will get a concussion at some point while playing the sport. (FOX19 file photo) 75 percent of football players will get a concussion at some point while playing the sport. (FOX19 file photo)
CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) -

Your child is more likely to get a brain injury playing football than any other sport.  According to the Sports Concussion Institute, 75 percent of football players will get a concussion at some point while playing the sport. 

South Dearborn's Caleb Rudisell was just released to play again after receiving a concussion during a game.  "I got tackled by two people.  Both head to head and I got up and my vision was all blurry," Rudisell said.  "I had headaches for about a week and a half afterward."

In an effort to cut down on concussions, many local coaches have cut down on full-impact practices and teach kids a heads up style of tackling.  "We're trying to do as much as we can to keep them safe," said Colerain football coach Tom Bolden.

And more schools are now tackling a recent study released by the Virginia Tech-Wake Forest University School of Biomedical Engineering which rates football helmets based on their ability to reduce the risk of concussion.

FOX19 Investigates requested the football helmets used by dozens of local schools and compiled them for parents.  No local high school is currently using helmets not recommended or considered only marginal by the study. 

Several local teams do use the Schutt Air Advantage helmets, which received only two stars, and are considered only adequate.  Kenton County Schools is one of them. 

"Even though we have some of those helmets, 13 at one middle school, three of them at another, we are not using them.  We have them conditioned to be used but they are not.  They are sitting on a shelf," said Jess Dykes, the Director of Public Information for Kenton County Schools.

Other school districts that have the two star helmets, including Milford and Fairfield schools say they are phasing them out and have very few left. 

Bob Fawley of Capitol Varsity, who reconditions many local school's helmets, questions whether one helmet is better than another. 

"There's concussions with all of these helmets and I don't think there's any proof at this point that 5-star helmets are reducing concussion any differently than any other helmets," Fawley said.

Dr. John Brannan of Beacon Orthopaedics agrees.  "Helmets are not designed to fully eliminate the risk of a concussion or a true brain injury," Brannan said.

The differing opinions on helmets' effectiveness leave parents like Stacie Reed, whose son has had two football-related concussions, wondering how she can best protect her son.

"Maybe right now they haven't determined there is a difference but maybe 20 years from now they will realize, hey, the boys in this helmet are okay and the ones in the cheaper helmet aren't okay," Reed said

And while there is no clear cut way to cut down on brain injuries in a sport where players keep getting stronger and faster, players say they'll try anything to protect themselves from a concussion.  

"I switched helmets because I was nervous in that helmet pretty much.  Never had a concussion before or any severe headaches like that," Rudisell said after he returned to the sport.

See where your school ranks in football helmet safety below.

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