Category Archives: NCAA

Do ‘smart’ helmets hold key for football player’s safety?

Head injuries in football are a hot topic in the media these days, and for good reason. Reports are continually released, detailing the rises in concussion rates and other brain injuries in youth, high school and professional football.

Many fault the NFL for covering up the dangers and allowing players to make the judgment call to resume playing after sustaining a blow to the head. President Obama announced his hesitation about youth playing the physical sport and addressed the growing concerns at a White House Summit.

Some believe the efforts, including a $30 million concussion study by the NCAA and Department of Defense, serve as a PR stunt attempting to divert attention from the topic. In fact, while we’re trying to remove the “suck it up” stigma from contact sports, many believe it’s an empty effort.

Riddell, the company that supplies two-thirds of the helmets for the NFL, developed a new ‘smart’ helmet for use in the 2014 season. A sensor in the helmet sends data to the sidelines if a player sustains an unusually hard hit, allowing a better evaluation and removal from the game if necessary.

The helmets, unfortunately, aren’t foolproof. When tested, sometime they failed to register a blow when dropped from five feet. Moreover, they can’t actually diagnose injuries; simply provide more information about whether or not a player can remain in the game.

Helmets in general aren’t the solution to ending concussions and other brain injuries in football. A study published in 2013 found that while they decrease the risk of brain injury, there isn’t any evidence to suggest they actually protect or help fight the effects of long-term head trauma.

In fact, Riddell is cited as a defendant in many of the current lawsuits against the NFL.

It seems like we’re scrambling, trying to find information fast to help protect the players. Hopefully some of these methods actually pan out and allow solutions to make football safer, but only time will tell.


Boston Globe. (2014). Obama’s concussion summit: Sucking it up. [Link]

Gammons, M. R. (2013). Helmets in sport: Fact and fallacy. American College of Sports Medicine. [Link]

Griggs, B. (2014). ‘Smart’ football helmet may help detect concussions. CNN. [Link]

NCAA. (2014). NCAA, DoD launch concussion study. [Link]

NCAA owes Duty of Care to protect against debilitating effects of concussions

United States Magistrate Judge Cynthia Reed Eddy of the U.S. District Court of the Western District of Pennsylvania recommended the denial of the Motion to Dismiss filed by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) in a lawsuit filed by Matthew and Jessica Onyshko.  The NCAA moved for dismissal of the action, arguing that the Onyshkos did not allege sufficient facts in their Complaint to support their negligence claim; in particular, that the NCAA owed a legal duty to Mr. Onyshko.

Onyshko suffers from a progressive brain and spinal cord injury with ALS-like symptoms caused by repeated head trauma during his college football career as a linebacker at California University of Pennsylvania.  He and his wife filed suit against the NCAA in December 2013, alleging that the NCAA breached its duty to warn or take effective action to protect him from the long-term effects of concussions and sub-concussive blows to the head suffered while playing NCAA collegiate football.

In recommending denial of the NCAA’s Motion to Dismiss, Magistrate Judge Eddy stated that the Onyshkos alleged sufficient facts in their Complaint to proceed with their negligence claim against the NCAA.  Onyshko, who is employed as a firefighter with the city of Pittsburgh, awaits a decision on the recommendation by District Judge Cathy Bissoon.  The NCAA has until June 16 to file Objections to Judge Eddy’s Report and Recommendation.

The lawsuit was filed by Jason Luckasevic, Esquire, with Goldberg, Persky & White, P.C. of Pittsburgh, a personal injury law firm.