As we all continue to hear about the alarming rate of concussions even at the youth sports level, we also hear about new equipment being developed and sold that provides extra protection against concussions.
Should we believe what these manufacturers tell us? The National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment (NOCSAE) says no. Make that a capital ‘N.’ This new post from momsTEAM.com, one of my favorite websites, offers a closer look at the claims that certain mouth guards, headbands, and supplements reduce the risk of traumatic brain injuries.
The temptation for parents and coaches to believe the claims – and then buy the products – is tough resist. We want to protect the kids and will do whatever it takes. We want the industry to create safer options and so when we hear of something that claims to work, we pull the trigger.
The NOCSAE warns “caveat emptor.” In the article, the NOCASE’s executive director says, “Any device or supplement promoted as being able to prevent, diagnose or cure a concussion must be supported by scientific data and peer-reviewed research. Currently, there is no definitive scientific research linking mouth guards, head bands, supplements or other specialty products to a reduction in concussion risk or severity. For companies to suggest otherwise misleads athletes, parents and coaches into a dangerous false sense of protection against concussion.”
The organization is saying, in other words, that the products being marketed MIGHT have a legitimate claim, but that claim hasn’t been proven by an outside, objective, expert source. For football helmets, the article suggests, as do most experts today, that you look for the Virginia Tech STAR rating, which rates the product’s safety.
It’s true that the sports equipment industry is working hard to develop safer products, because the demand for them exists. But despite our desire for a quick fix, we need to be patient and to analyze claims carefully. The new and growing awareness among parents and coaches is great to see, and as it continues to grow we’ll be equipped to make more informed decisions that will help to protect our kids.
The industry seems to be making legitimate efforts to make sports safer to play. We just need to bring with us our collective grain of salt as we evaluate the contenders and pretenders seeking our money. Check out the momsTEAM post and stay tuned for further developments.