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31 Aug 17Can technology save football? –

This is the third part in WTOP’s “Bad Brains” special report examining brain injuries in football, what doctors know about them and what’s being done to make the game safer.

COLUMBIA, Md. — The race to create a safe football helmet is big business, but it’s also something of an oxymoron. A football helmet was never designed to be “safe,” at least not from brain injury. That goes for the first generation of polymer helmets in the 1950s, and doubly so for the old leather helmets introduced back in the 1920s.

“Helmets were initially made and studied to prevent skull fractures, prevent bleeding around the brain, and certainly are effective for that,” said Dr. Stacy Suskauer, a brain injury specialist at Kennedy Krieger Institute.

Helmet technology has come a long way in the intervening decades, but the device remains, first and foremost, to prevent catastrophic head injuries, not brain injuries. Helmets have dramatically cut down on skull fractures and facial injuries — not concussions. For those who have used them for years, the delineation is clear.

“I just don’t buy that these things are going to protect you,” said former NFL lineman Scott Peters. “You could put a steel cage around your head and you could still get a concussion, because it’s the deceleration of the brain inside the skull that is causing a lot of this trauma.”

View the full article here.