How Effective Is Latest Protective Headgear?

(CBS) — They are the latest hi-tech products on the market to keep kids safe when they play sports. These products are meant to reduce head trauma in young athletes, but how effective are they?

CBS 2’s Rob Johnson talked to those who use and make them, and those who say buyer beware.

They come with catchy names like 2nd Skull, Gyro, SG Helmets, and Shadowman and they are meant to lessen blows.

Just ask high school basketball player Rachel Corrigan who now wears a 2nd Skull headband after suffering her latest concussion last December.

“I felt a lot safer on the court with it,” she said. “It gave me my confidence back to play without feeling ‘oh I’m going to be hit again. I’ll be out for another month.'”

2nd Skull Technology is the brainchild of Federico Olivares.

“I really was looking for one product that could really protect my kids,” Olivares said.

His creations are the headband and a skull cap for use under a helmet, which he claims lessens the impact of a blow to head by 35 percent.

“It’s a soft urethane called XRD,” he said. “It is very soft, flexible but at sudden impact it hardens and that’s how we add the protection.”

So we took this technology to Rush University Medical Center Orthopedics Department and its concussion expert, Dr. Jeff Mjaanes.

We bounced a metal ball off of padding that you might find in a regulation helmet and off the 2nd Skull material which deadened the ball.

“This is a great material for dispersing the force of the impact,” Dr. Mjaanes said. “You do want that. The problem is, what’s happening on the other side of this, the brain and so that brain is also shaking and rotating.”

Doctor Mjaanes is also worried about products like these creating a false sense of security.

“If you put a kid in something and they feel safer, they might start taking risks that they shouldn’t normally take,” he said.

Meantime at Crete-Monee High School, Coach John Konecki says they have gone all in on this safety technology. Investing in SG helmets which are made of Kevlar on the outside, the Gyro which is a Kevlar helmet insert and the Shadowman tackling dummy to teach proper tackling technique and reduce the number of player-to-player hits during practice.

Konecki says head injuries have been reduced by 82 percent.

“I don’t believe there is any one magic bullet that’s going to eliminate head injuries or concussions from football,” Coach Konecki said. “I think it’s a number of things that have to work in concert with each other in order to drive those numbers down.”

Dr. Mjaanes also cautions the use of safety devices that are put in helmets after they have been made.

National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment (NOCSAE) , which sets standards for athletic equipment, warns that any add-on to a helmet will void the manufacturer’s warranty and could open the door to liability issues. Some companies may offer to take on that warranty, so be sure to ask.

More from Rob Johnson

Watch & Listen LIVE