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 trauma resulting from crashes to minor bumps and bruises.\nWhile 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.\nFor more information, visit UPMC’s ReThink Concussions website.\n\nFootball Helmet\n\nBasic components: Full helmet covering ears, chin strap, face mask, mouth guard\nOuter shell: Made of polycarbonate (plastic)\nInner shell: Made of specifically engineered liners used for protection and proper fit with extra padding under ear to protect the jaw\nChin strap: Helps to secure the helmet to the athlete’s head\nFace mask: There are different types depending on position played to allow for better visibility or protection\n\nFun fact: The NFL made helmets mandatory in 1943.\nFun fact: In the 1970s, the National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment introduced performance standard guidelines.\nBatting Helmet\n\nBasic components:Full helmet covering back and sides of head and at least one ear\nOuter shell: Can range from plastic to more durable polymers\nInner shell: Made of foam padding to protect skull against stray pitches\nSide flap: Should cover at least one ear \u2013 whichever one faces the pitcher\nProper fit: Should be secure but not squeeze the head\n\nFun fact: In 1941, the Brooklyn Dodgers became the first team to wear helmets during regular season games.\nFun fact: The MLB made helmets mandatory in 1971.\nHockey Helmet\n\nBasic components: Designed to provide a secure grip on the side and back of head, most include face cage and shield\nOuter shell: Composed of plastic, or lighter composite materials\nInner shell: Made of vinyl nitrile or a similar material with the intention to absorb energy and add a layer of protection between outer shell and head\nFace cage: Depends on position played, but can offer full coverage. The majority of helmets come with a shield to provide protection and maintain full visibility.\nProper fit: Sizes vary based on head measurements and helmets are adjustable\n\nFun fact: The NHL made helmets mandatory in 1979.\nNASCAR Helmet\n\nBasic components: Full head coverage with three protective layers designed to distribute the impact during crashes when head can move uncontrollably\nOuter shell: First line of defence to absorbe energy, made of a fiberglass\/carbon fiber composition\nMiddle layer: Comprised of a foam lining that is intended to absorb energy not absorbed by outer shell\nInner layer: Form-fitted padding made of nylon or a fire-resistant material\n\nFun fact: In 2001, NASCAR began enforcing full face mask helmets. “The Auto Union made helmets mandatory in 1914, but hard-shell helmets weren’t designed until the 1950s.\nTo learn more about concussions, head injuries, and how to protect against them, visit the UPMC Sports Medicine Concussion Program online. Understand more about managing concussions, as well as testing and treatment for concussions and information from the latest studies.