Helmet manufacturer ordered to pay $3 millions as compensation for brain injury

US helmet manufacturer Riddell had to pay US$3 millions in compensation to an injured football player. Rhett Ridolfi suffered severe brain damage, as well as paralysis, despite wearing a helmet. A Colorado jury found Riddell negligent in failing to warn players about concussion.

This is one of many lawsuits about brain injury while wearing a helmet. The injured person lawyer said:

“If they had told the truth, and said, ‘You have a 50 percent change of getting a concussion with this helmet,’ what mother or father would let their kid play football in a Riddell helmet? And you can still buy this helmet today.”

Helmets provide the illusion of protecting against brain injury. Helmets cannot protect against rotational acceleration, the principal cause of brain injury. Report from the Toronto Star:

“Increasingly, what helmets have become are talismans. Riddell (and every other manufacturer) understands that no space-age resin, no lightweight polymer, no amount of high-tech bafflegab is going to fully protect you if you nail something hard and fast at just the wrong angle. They manufacture the illusion of full protection …

What they’re selling is witchcraft. The fault here does not lie with the manufacturers. It lies somewhere within the culture. …

There is very little difference between wearing a helmet and wearing a piece of the true cross. Both are faith objects. The power of any talisman is that its protective aura is self-reinforcing. As long as you aren’t hurt while you’re wearing it, one presumes the talisman takes the credit. …

the surest way to protect against brain injury is to either engage in pastimes that
A) don’t require helmets or
B) have adapted themselves to relatively safe, helmetless participation. …

With the helmet goes a misplaced sense of invincibility.”

As Jerry Seinfield noted, a key issue is the culture surrounding helmets:

Bicycle helmets have the same deficiency. Additionally, they can increase brain injury:

“Protecting the brain from injury that results in death or chronic disablement provides the main motivation for wearing helmets. Their design has been driven by the development of synthetic polystyrene foams which can reduce the linear acceleration resulting from direct impact to the head, but scientific research shows that angular acceleration from oblique impulse is a more important cause of brain injury. Helmets are not tested for capacity to reduce it and, as Australian research first showed, they may increase it.“

Helmets have been promoted by claiming they protect against brain injury. This can lead to people overestimating their benefit, taking more risks. As reported in the New York Times:

“the increased use of bike helmets may have had an unintended consequence: riders may feel an inflated sense of security and take more risks. …

The helmet he was wearing did not protect his neck; he was paralyzed from the neck down. …

”It didn’t cross my mind that this could happen,” said Philip, now 17.

”I definitely felt safe. I wouldn’t do something like that without a helmet.” “

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