Concussion prevention used to be simply taking a player out of a game, when there was some head trauma, in hopes it didn’t get any worse and possibly a second one didn’t occur. Many times, that same player would get put back into a game. Name the sport, name the level, most involved have seen it and still see it on a rare occasion. One company named “Unequal” makes a headband, the Halo 3, that is supposed to prevent head trauma. And for some it’s been very successful.
With most products, you can find three that it absolutely works for and three that it didn’t. Why is that? Mainly because no two brains are alike and that makes this field a very difficult one. Even the best people still tell me there’s more to learn.
The Halo 3 is a product that Maya Naimoli wears. She’s a 12-year-old soccer goalie who plays for the coppa swarm and that is a position where she has a lot of chances to get a head injury and more specially a concussion. So far, she’s remained concussion free and they feel wearing the headband is a big reason why.
“The first time I wore it I took a blow to the head. I didn’t feel anything. I felt great. I didn’t really realize what it was supposed to do for me and I’ve been wearing it ever since,” Maya stated. “When I would wear a normal headband if would fly off my head or fall off. Then my hair would fall in my face covering my eyes. But this is great because you put this on and it keeps everything out of your face. You can focus on the game while being safe (she cited the strong Velcro as to why it stays on).”
Her mom Mary Kay was a big reason her daughter wears the protective device. She practically demanded it.
“My daughter (Maya) has been wearing the headband for around three years. We reached out to the company,” said Mary Kay “Sam” Elsen. “We tried another type but it was bigger and bulkier and wasn’t something she wanted to wear. She started to play the goalkeeper position which has all kinds of potential for injuries.”
I’m not suggesting this item is the great concussion cure-all. The more conversations we all have about this subject the better off the players will be. More manufacturers will want to create products in a growing category so it’s a win-win. You must convince the parents first and the kids should follow, but sometimes they don’t.
“The alarming concussion rates among youth soccer players aren’t so surprising when you look at the recommended soccer essentials: soccer cleats, shin guards, mouth guards, water bottles, uniform, socks and shorts, practice t-shirts and shorts and a soccer ball,” said Rob Vito, founder and CEO of Unequal. “It’s just astonishing to me that no one ever seems to mention head protection. As parents, we wouldn’t dream of allowing our child to ride in a car without a seat belt, ski on a slope or ride a bike without a helmet. It’s time parents heed the wake-up call – protect your child’s head like you protect their shins.”
Do all teams do baseline testing of their players? No, but there is a lot more discussion about it. It sometimes occurs on travel teams that have a bigger budget. If I were a parent whenever my doctor (a true specialist with training in the field of brain injuries) deemed it necessary, I would start getting one every season for my child athlete.
In soccer circles, there is a belief that correctly heading a ball keeps the concussions away. It might help but I happen to think if you have enough of them over the course of time there’s no data to show you’re not at risk from that activity. This doesn’t count a collision, kick to the head or other ways you can have the worst happen.
Adults need to let kids know it’s cooler to not end up with a head injury and cooler to wear something that may prevent this. It’s a hard sell. Should some governing bodies force parents to buy these? I’d say no only because it may not work on everyone. Now, should some places force players to wear something? I believe so. Girls or Women’s lacrosse doesn’t ask their players to wear helmets, but the men do? Why?
“Because of the way girls are built (big brains and small necks), many reports say they’re at a higher risk for concussion,” Mary Kay added.
The bottom line is. Do some research and seek out a qualified medical professional to have this discussion with.
The Halo 3 is:
- FIFA Law 4 compliant (FIFA is the governing body for soccer’s rules of the game)
- Tested to ASTM F2439-11 (ASTM International is a global safety standards organization)
- A safer alternative: Industry standard lab results show severity index and peak acceleration data from Halo 3 testing are significantly lower when compared to tests with no protection
- Worn by World Cup athletes, elite club players, Division 1 college and university players as well as youngsters just starting out in the sport
- Part of a growing movement for safer play among soccer clubs across the nation
Their website is http://unequal.com
For more information on brain injuries in women you can look here: