Headgear, such as helmets, that are designed to protect the head from injury. Protective headgear is used in several sports, including cycling, American football, ice hockey, horse riding, climbing, canoeing, and skiing. Amateur boxers also use headgear in the Olympic Games, significantly reducing the incidence of knock-outs. Head protectors have to be specific to the sport and individual, light, yet good at absorbing energy. Cycling helmets, for example, have to be very aerodynamic. The helmets used by jockeys have a similar design to motor cycle crash helmets. Heavy or poor-fitting helmets can actually exacerbate an injury, exaggerating cervical flexion and increasing the risk of neck injuries. Some helmets have integrated eye and mouth protection. These are difficult to remove, especially after injury. Unless there is respiratory distress, removal should be delayed if an athlete has been knocked unconscious, or if there is a suspected cervical spine injury. If helmet removal is essential, it should be performed by trained personnel. Because helmets offer considerable protection, there is a danger that users take greater risks because they feel invulnerable. However, this sense of invulnerability is not justified. When helmets were first introduced into ice hockey, cervical injuries actually increased because the helmets offer little protection to forces applied to the neck.
Subjects: Sports and Exercise Medicine.