Bottom Line Investigation: Is your child's helmet making the cut

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by Sarah Barwacz

MILWAUKEE COUNTY -- High school football season is one week away. Recently a lot of attention was brought to concussions and the long term brain damage they can cause. To help protect your children we look at the main piece of equipment designed to protect your children-- their helmet.

In a Bottom Line Report we investigate the safety rating of your child's helmet to see if they're at risk.

Kia Labracke's son Nico started his football season at Oconomowoc with high hopes.

"Football was everything to him, he wanted to continue through high school.

But not too far into the season she got a call that two players had taken him down.

"He was non verbal and motionless, unable to talk and didn't recognize who we were for four and a half hours which was shocking."

Like most high schools students, her son was wearing, "It was the school issued helmet."

But as we found, not all helmets are created equal.

Dr. Steven Rowson with Virginia Tech is a leading researcher in the field of concussions. He created a helmet safety rating system, zero to five stars after putting sensors on players.

"In the lab we are recreating those impacts in the field using dummies with instrumentation and sensors inside that head, and can look what effect that helmet."

CBS 58 looked at area high schools' helmets and found Racine and Arrowhead's football teams had the best rated helmets with four or five stars. Milwaukee Public Schools and Wauwatosa East had anything from three to five star helmets. Wauwatosa West had the lowest rated helmet, at two stars, but also carried five star helmets.

Dr. Rowson says, "You see about a 30 percent reduction in risk going from a 3 star helmet to a 5 star helmet."

We spoke to Wauwatosa West's Athletic Director. He says their district is working to replace the lower rated helmets overtime but it's difficult because of the cost.

He also made the point that it's about limiting the amount of blows to the head. It's something Kia can relate to. Her son eventually made a full recovery but hopes her story is a reminder to other mothers about how careful you need to be.

If you'd like to see how your brand of helmet rates, click HERE.

 

 

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