In an attempt to prevent multiple concussions, a number of men’s basketball players from the University of Louisville have been wearing mixed-martial-arts helmets in practice this year, according to the Associated Press.
The team’s trainer, Fred Hina, said he came up with the idea while watching a college football game this past November. After watching a previously concussed football player take a hit and go down with another concussion, Hina realized how much at risk his basketball players were.
“We’re just trying to be proactive and keep our multiple (concussions) down to a minimum, limit our risk,” Hina said Thursday to the AP. “It may be overkill, but I really think you’re going to see it more and more with the focus being on head injuries.”
The helmets being used by Louisville players, made of vinyl-covered foam, aren’t nearly as motion-limiting as football helmets. Three players who have all suffered multiple concussions—guards Peyton Siva, Tim Henderson, and Elisha Justice—all wear the helmets in practice during any contact drills, although they’re not mandatory for the full team.
“Really, it’s no different than putting an ankle brace on a guy that’s had three or four ankle sprains,” Hina said to the AP.
Given that there were an estimated 13,987 annual trips to the emergency room for traumatic brain injuries (including concussions) in youth athletes 18 and under over the past decade, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it’s easy to see why Hina’s adopted a better-safe-than-sorry approach with the Cardinals. Just because basketball doesn’t condone direct hits like football or hockey doesn’t mean that basketball players are immune from the risks of concussions.
If only someone could pass that message along to Miami Heat superstar LeBron James. After enduring a violent collision with Grant Hill of the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday night and staying on the ground for a few minutes, James was asked if he’d ever had a concussion before.
“No, I’m too tough for that,” he replied.
Photo: Louisville’s Peyton Siva, left, defends teammate Russ Smith during practice in Phoenix on March 21. Louisville will face Florida in an NCAA men’s college basketball tournament West Regional final on Saturday. (Matt York/AP)
A version of this news article first appeared in the Schooled in Sports blog.