New technology tackles concussion threat for football players
The maker of Guardian Caps says they reduce the impact of hits on the football field by 33 percent.
NORCROSS, Ga. –
High school football players across Georgia are gearing up for a new season, and some of them will hit the field with new technology designed to protect them from concussions.
Some would argue that when it comes to football, concussions are about as common as cleats, pads, or even the pigskins themselves.
Stuart Johnson, a senior, plays defensive end and offensive end at Wesleyan High School in Norcross. He’s seen first-hand what a concussion can do. A teammate took a nasty hit last season.
“It definitely was a scary moment,” Johnson said. “He started crying because he couldn’t remember anything.”
The Centers for Disease Control says nearly 175,000 young people are treated for sports-related brain injuries, including concussions, in emergency rooms every year.
Local inventor Lee Hanson decided to do something about it. His company, the Hanson Group, created Guardian Caps, a protective, soft-shell cap that is attached to the top of players’ helmets. Hanson says it reduces the impact of hits on the football field by 33 percent.
“The helmets, as they are today, they have the padding on the inside, with a hard shell on the outside,” Hanson explained. “So you’ve got to have a crush zone and a soft area on the outside. Just like in NASCAR, they have soft bumpers around it. When a car runs into it at 200 mph, it decelerates it.”
Since Hanson introduced Guardian Caps in 2012, more than 250 schools around the country have signed on to use them, including Wesleyan.
“High school athletes, just like college and professional athletes, are getting bigger, faster, and stronger,” said Franklin Pridgen, Wesleyan’s head coach. “The speed of the game is increasing exponentially, so the chance of injury is also increasing.”
Pridgen says he’s proud that his team is getting out in front of the issue proactively addressing the threat of concussions, and so are his players.
“We’re used to them now and we know the purpose of them. Of course we look a little goofy by it’s for a good purpose,” said Johnson.
Hanson says that a number of Division I college schools have also signed on to use the Guardian Caps, including the South Carolina Gamecocks.