Colorado high schools banned from using football helmet cover that claims to reduce concussion risk

New helmet cover under scrutiny

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. - Colorado high schools are prohibited from using a new football helmet cover whose manufacturer claims it reduces the risk of concussions.

The cover known as a Guardian cap goes over the helmet and provides an extra pad of cushion. The Atlanta-based company claimed the cover reduces the amount of impact by 33%. President Lee Hansen told 7NEWS Reporter Lindsey Sablan "it's similar to a bumper that's on your car."

However, the caps have created controversy across Colorado. Colorado High School Activities Association banned the covers from game play in July citing a national organization which questioned their integrity.

The National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment issued a statement in July stating: "The addition of after-market items by anyone that changes or alters the protective system by adding or deleting protective padding to the inside or outside of the helmet, whether temporary or permanent, voids the certification of compliance with the NOCSAE standard."

Coaches in Colorado have mixed feelings on the covers.

Scott Yates, who is the head coach and athletic director of Kent Denver, bought 50 of the caps last season. This year he asked the parents of each player to sign a waiver allowing or prohibiting the use of the caps.

"What we needed to do was leave this up to the parents in our program and we explained to them our one-year track record, which is all it was, one year. Then let them understand what legal ramifications there might be or may not be if a student was injured wearing one of these guardians," Yates said.

Yates encouraged his parents to sign the waiver allowing students to use it, saying last year, while the team used the caps in practice they had no concussions. Typically, they have two to three a season.

"You want to do anything and everything you can to protect the kids. We experimented with it last year, and we were pretty successful with it," Yates said. "So my preference would be we continue to use them but ultimately it becomes more of a personal issue with families."

Earlier this month, NOCSAE revised its statement saying, "NOCSAE itself does not certify any product, it does not "approve" or "disapprove" of any product, and has no authority to grant exemptions or waivers to the requirements imposed by the standards it writes."

It continued, "When this [addition to the helmet] happens, the manufacturer which made the original certification has the right, under the NOCSAE standards, to declare its certification void. It also can decide to engage in additional certification testing of the new model and certify the new model with the add-on product, but it is not required to do so."

However, there is still confusion over whether the helmets are banned or not. 7NEWS contacted CHSAA and we were told the legal department needed to further review the revised statement and they were not prepared to comment.