Do Helmets Really Prevent Concussions?

Researchers say not always--especially if they make you more fearless
Staff Writer

An update to the Consensus Statement on Concussion in Sport provides new information about diagnosing and treating concussions, and pointsto a lack of evidence that helmets prevent concussions.

According to the international team of researchers involved in the update, helmets will protect against injuries to the head, but will not do much to prevent serious internal damage. In fact, helmets can actually give riders a false sense of security and encourage them to be more reckless or aggressive.

“An important consideration in the use of protective equipment is the concept of risk compensation,” the authors wrote in a statement. “This is where the use of protective equipment results in behavioral change such as the adoption of more dangerous playing techniques, which can result in a paradoxical increase in injury rates.”

The information underscores the importance of using both safety equipment and caution in sports such as climbing, snowboarding and kayaking. Although helmets may protect you from falling rock or others dangers, they are no substitute for careful decision-making and planning.

The update, as well as more of the latest findings, come from the report’s fourth edition. The information was presented by researchers and clinicians from around the world at a two-day meeting in Zurich in November 2012.

The Consensus Statement on Concussion in Sport was created as a guide for athletic trainers, doctors and healthcare providers.

For more about the study, visit Time.