Protecting their heads

Dolores football players get new top-of-the line helmets

THE INSIDE of the “concussion proof” helmets purchased recently by the Dolores School Board of Education show lots of high-tech padding.

It was a night that few like to remember.

The Dolores High School Football team played Cedaredge at home, not only did the Bears lose 38 to 0 against the team, but five players were out of the game because of injuries, three of them had concussions and were carted off by ambulance.

One of those players was Tyler Weir, a junior and the biggest player on the team.

Weir remembered the game on Wednesday, while holding a brand-new helmet in his hands. The new helmets arrived Wednesday and coach Ray Weir, Tyler’s father, handed them out to every player.

The Dolores School Board of Education voted last week to spend $5,000 on 20 so-called “concussion proof” helmets, hoping that they never see three players carted off for concussions again.

Tyler Weir said he has had three concussions during his sport career, one last year playing football against Bayfield, one last year playing basketball and the one this year playing Cedaredge.

He missed one week of school this year because of it.

“I had headaches and stuff,” he said. “And I couldn’t remember the whole day of the game.”

Recent research has shown that young athletes can’t return to play until all their symptoms are gone and while Weir had headaches, he couldn’t play or go to school to allow his brain needed time to rest and recover.

Tyler Weir and the rest of his teammates on the Dolores High School football team placed brand new helmets on their heads Wednesday just before practice.

A quick look inside the helmets showed an intricate group of high-tech pads, making them what some people are calling “concussion proof helmets”.

Coach Weir said that while he is excited that he is able to replace the helmets, some of them were seven years old, he warns the players, there is really no such thing as a concussion proof helmet. Players are still at risk and as a coach, he still watches for signs.

Coach Weir says the helmets will likely last about 10 years and that they get sent in every two years to get tested.

“But there really is no such thing as a concussion-proof helmet,” he said.

As a coach, he looks for symptoms of concussions on the field.

Weir says he looks for glassy eyes, vacant stares, slurred speech and he talks to his players to see how they respond.

“They know what I am looking for and sometimes they won’t look at me because of it,” he said.

He hopes the new helmets will help his players and says they are more “concussion resistant.”

“These helmets are top of the line, the best they make,” coach Weir said.

Some players complained that they were tight.

Weir said the team bought eight helmets last year and that they have 28 students playing football this year.

High school athletes in nine primary sports sustained an estimated 137,000 concussions in the 2007-8 school year, according to a study conducted by the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. Football had the most, with more than 70,000, followed by girls soccer (24,000), boys soccer (17,000) and girls basketball (7,000). These were only reported concussions; more were almost certainly sustained but went unrecognized or ignored.

The study, published in the American Journal of Sports Medicine, found that the majority of concussions (76 percent) occurred during contact with another player, usually a head-to-head collision (53 percent). The most common symptom reported by concussed athletes was headache (94 percent), followed by dizziness or unsteadiness (75 percent), difficulty concentrating (57 percent), and confusion or disorientation (46 percent). Additionally 25 percent of athletes with concussions reported experiencing amnesia and fewer than 5 percent reported loss of consciousness. The data also revealed that symptoms resolved for most of the athletes (83 percent) within one week (27 percent resolved within 24 hours); however, 2 percent of the injured athletes had symptoms that lasted longer than one month.

TYLER WEIR holds up a new helmet purchased recently to help protect players from concussions. Enlargephoto


TYLER WEIR holds up a new helmet purchased recently to help protect players from concussions.