In March, two related bills entered both houses of Congress aimed at preventing concussions and other sports injuries to children. The Children’s Sports Athletic Equipment Safety Act would raise standards for football helmets that must be met within 9 months of the bills’ enactment. If the companies do not improve standards on their own, the proposed bills give the Consumer Product Safety Commission the ability to set mandatory guidelines.
The bills come amid concern about the ability of current football helmets to prevent concussions. According to Rep. Bill Pascrell, the sponsor of the U.S. House of Representatives bill, approximately 3.8 million American athletes receive a concussion every year while playing sports, and sports trails only motor vehicle accidents as the leading cause of traumatic brain injury for those aged 15 – 24.
The bill also targets companies that make misleading claims about safety products, from football helmets to headbands and mouthguards. For example, many helmets have the manufactured date inside the padding of the football helmet, making it difficult to know how old the helmet is. Football helmets lose their protecting power over time.
The sponsor of the Senate bill, Sen. Tom Udall, asked the Federal Trade Commission in January to investigate claims by football helmet manufacturers regarding “potential unfair and deceptive practices related to the sale of football helmets, especially those advertised for children’s use.” In a letter to the FTC Chairman, Sen. Udall cited the football helmet manufacturer Riddell for claiming a new helmet reduced the chance of concussions by 31 percent without providing enough research to back that claim.
Understanding the Harm Concussions Cause
A concussion occurs when the brain hits the inside of the skull from a violent motion or impact to the head. Concussions can cause memory loss, severe headaches and confusion, among other things. According to Doctor Jonathan T. Finnoff of the Mayo Clinic, serious or repeat concussions can have long-lasting effects in children, and in worst cases can produce fatal brain swelling. Postconcussion syndrome causes a person to lose some ability to think or remember. It can cause changes in personality, such as depression or irritability. It can also cause unsteadiness in balance and vision. Anyone with a previous concussion is more likely to get one in the future.
If you believe your child may have suffered a concussion seek medical help immediately. If your child has been injured from a defective product you have rights. Contact a personal injury attorney to discuss potential compensation for your child’s injuries.