Could Your Athlete Be Playing With An Unsafe Helmet?

Columbia, SC (WLTX) - A four month News 19 investigation discovered some Midlands High Schools are using helmets that are considered unsafe according to a Virginia Tech Study. . After we alerted those schools they are now taking immediate action.

While schools like Irmo High School play with the Riddell Revolution Speed helmet that received a 5 star rating according to the Virginia Tech Study, our investigation found schools that are using two star and even one star helmets that have been discontinued and banned from the NFL.

"When you look at the acceleration data for comparative tests the differences were dramatic," said Dr. Stephen Duma with Virginia Tech.

Friday night football in the Midlands is a southern tradition. As the athletes battle on the field they are relying on their helmets to protect them.

"It was probably the hardest I have ever been hit," said Richland Northeast student Paul Cooper.

Cooper plays cornerback and safety for Richland Northeast and suffered a concussion during practice last season. His school uses the Riddell Revolution and Schutt DNA Pro helmets.

Those are considered four and three star helmets. Cooper says if his helmet wasn't a good quality his concussion could have been worst.

"I got a real sharp pain in my neck and in the back of my head. My whole head started hurting really bad."

News 19 filed requests for the make and model of nearly 40 high schools in the Midlands.

We found several schools were using five and four star helmets.

We also discovered that Dutch Fork, Chapin, Blythewood and Swansea High Schools used Schutt Air Advantage Helmets this past fall, those are rated as a two star according to the Virginia Tech Wake Forest study.

News 19 notified the school districts.

Mark Bounds Chief Information Officer for Richland Lexington District Five said in a statement, "Out of an abundance of caution…. District 5 will immediately pull the 28 Schutt Air Advantage helmets at Dutch Fork High School and the 11 helmets at Chapin High School."

What was more shocking was what we found at Pelion High School.

They had 31 helmets in their inventory that received a one star rating; the Riddell VSR4.

A Helmet that Riddell "Discontinued sales of in May 2011" and is banned from the NFL.

"At that particular school the squad is smaller so they are not often used but we want to make sure they are not used so we are going to work to get them replaced," said Mary Beth Hill with Lexington School District One. "The most important thing is, are our athletes every bit as safe as we can make them."

To create its ranking Virginia Tech engineers performed 120 tests on each helmet.

Dr. Duma with the university says Helmets that had 5 star ratings absorbed twice as much as the one star helmets which tested the worst.

"There was no way for consumers to find out which helmets were better, it was purely what it looks like what it costs and what the sales rep tells me, so we were the first group to present independent biomechanical data," said Duma.

"Concussions are much more serious than they were back in the day," said Kenny.

Kenney has been an athletic trainer at Dreher Therapy for the past 8 years.

He says a big problem trainer's face is that athletes won't tell them when something is going wrong so they have to look for warning signs like if a player is walking off balance or unsteady.

"Concussions could last days, weeks, even months if it's not properly treated. If you go back into class too early, the brain needs rest just like any other kind of injury. If you go back into class too early you can have long term symptoms, dizziness, headaches, blurred vision and they can last a long time."

See where your child's school measures up against the Virginia Tech Study, below.
(mobile users, please visit our website on a computer to see the full study)


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