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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.


helmets infographic

About Sports Medicine

An athletic lifestyle carries the potential for injury. Whether you’re an elite athlete or a weekend warrior, UPMC Sports Medicine can help. If you are looking to prevent, treat, or rehabilitate a sports injury, our multidisciplinary team of experts can help you get back into the game. If you are seeking to improve your athletic performance, we can work with you to meet your goals. We serve athletes and active people of all ages and experience levels. Our goal is to help you keep doing what you love. Visit our website to find a specialist near you.