Guardian Caps on helmets help reduce impact of hits to head
NOV 22, 2013 7:40a ET
HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif. -- At Huntington Beach High School, they know all too well about the impact of concussions.
Seventh-year head coach Eric Lo says he's had three players retire from the game of football in the last two years because of concussions and/or head injuries. This season, multiple players have already suffered concussions.
"What are ways that we can prevent them?" Lo asks.
This season, he took steps towards head protection by purchasing Guardian Caps for his program.
Similar to the newest technology in helmets, the seven-ounce caps, which go over the top of the helmets, are not concussion proof. However, they are designed to cut down the impact of each hit to the head by 33 percent.
Huntington Beach is one of 300 programs from the youth ranks to the collegiate level to use Guardian Caps.
Other teams in the CIF Southern Section to use them include Orange Lutheran, Anaheim Canyon, Yorba Linda, and Chadwick.
However, Huntington Beach is in rare air being the only team that has players wearing the caps in games.
Junior running back Travis Heer, who earlier this year was selected to the USA Rugby All-American Junior Varsity Team, has never had a concussion playing rugby. However, he's had four in his football career, the first coming as an eighth grader.
He's one of the Oilers players to wear the caps in games, which are now allowed thanks to a directive from the National Federation of High School Associations. Heer says the cap has prolonged his football playing career. There are hits he's taken this season that he's sure would have caused some damage but he feels the Guardian Cap prevented an injury.
They know there is no full-proof method.
"I'm definitely more aware," said Heer, one of 10 Oilers players to wear the Guardian Cap.
There are players who have suggested only those who have experienced concussions in the past should wear the caps. And there are some who believe it's all in the technique, which could hold some truth.
High school football players are nearly twice as likely to suffer a concussion than more experienced college football players, according to a study done by The National Academies.
Having good technique and doing things correctly 100 percent of the time, however, is extremely tough in a sport that requires snap decisions at high speed.
"Some of the stuff you can't prevent," Lo said. "When you're going to tackle somebody and you're trying to put a shoulder on him and somewhat square up on him and he changes paths and your heads collide.
"It happens so frequent."
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