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Personal Injury at School in Sports

Personal injury risks abound in schools.  In San Diego, Fall signals the return to school for many of our children.  Fall sport teams, such as high school and pee wee football, have begun practice. The young athletes begin training in the heat of the summer, sometimes in full pads and helmets. While some risks are inherent in sports, the leagues, athletic departments, coaches and trainers need to be aware of, and not subject our children to, unnecessary risk of injury from heat and heat stroke.

Further, the equipment that is to protect from personal injury can cause personal injury.  Recent months have seen widespread publicity about concussion and other traumatic head and neck injuries sustained by football players.  Senator Tom Udall has asked the Consumer Product Safety Commission to investigate helmet safety.  In January, 2011 Senator Udall called out Riddell, a leading manufacturer of football helmets and supplier of the NFL, for misleading advertising.  Riddell claims that their new helmet reduces the risk of concussion by 31%.  Senator Udall states in his letter to the Federal Trade Commission that there is actually very little scientific evidence to support the claim. 

An article in the Wall Street Journal discussed this topic.  According to the article, "to become certified for sale, a football helmet has to earn a "severity index" score of 1200, according to testing done by the National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment, or Nocsae. Dr. Robert Cantu, a Nocsae board member and chief of neurosurgery at Emerson Hospital in Concord, Mass., says that to prevent concussions, helmets would have to have a severity index of 300-about four times better than the standard. "The only way to make that happen, Dr. Cantu says, "is to make the helmet much bigger and the padding much bigger."

The problem with that approach, he says-other than making players look like Marvin the Martian-is that heavier helmets would be more likely to cause neck injuries."

The bottom line is even a perfectly made helmet won't prevent injury but the risk of brain injury and serious neck and spine injury is multiplied when there is a defect in the helmet or equipment.  If an injury has occurred it is imperative that the helmet and equipment be preserved and not modified in any way.  The only way to check for manufacturing defects is if the item is available to be analyzed. 

If you or someone you know have been injured in a sport related incident, contact the Law Offices of David P. Beeson at 619-233-6078.

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