Concussion Prevention Firms Pop Up, But Where’s Proof?
Well-publicized events involving professional athletes, along with a federal lawsuit and a Hollywood movie now in theaters, have spurred unprecedented interest in concussions – and set off a business boom.
Companies around the country are developing headbands, mouth guards, helmet padding, and skullcaps to try to protect athletes’ heads during impacts.
Medical experts warn that no product can prevent concussions or the repeated subconcussive hits that may also cause lasting brain damage. But device makers hold that their products can provide a measure of protection.
One recent entry comes from a Chester County company, Defend Your Head, based in Chester Springs and led by former New York Jet John Roman.
It has developed a soft, polyurethane outer shell for football helmets meant to reduce head trauma by dispersing and reducing the force of impacts.
CEO Roman, a Jets offensive lineman from 1976 to 1983, officially announced the release of ProTech, the company’s first product, on Jan. 13.
“I think it’s particularly important for young players coming up to play a game that is as safe as it can be,” said Roman, who suffered concussions at the high school, college, and professional levels and for whom headaches were normal while playing. The game has gotten safer over the years, he said, “but we still have so much work to do.”
Defend Your Head, founded in spring 2013, is careful to say its product cannot prevent head or neck injuries.
More than 100 high schools and universities have agreed to try ProTech, including 10 area high schools, Roman said. He declined to identify the local schools until an official announcement by the company in the coming weeks.
Another local firm, Unequal Technologies, based in Glen Mills, Delaware County, offers helmet padding and introduced a headband a year ago that the company claims protects athletes’ heads. Ali Krieger, a defender on the U.S. women’s national soccer team, wore one of those headbands during last summer’s Women’s World Cup.
Brain-Pad Inc., based in Conshohocken, Montgomery County, sells mouth guards it says can help lessen head trauma. The company can no longer claim the mouth guards reduce the risk of concussions after a settlement it reached with the Federal Trade Commission in 2012. The agency found that the company’s concussion claims were not backed by scientific evidence.
By Michaelle Bond, republished with permission by the original author, and The Philadelphia Inquirer, the original publisher.