Mr. Brian Williams
30 Rockefeller Plaza
New York, NY
Re: 30 Rock, June 7th episode on women's concussions in soccer
Dear Mr. Williams:
I have watched your news program for a long time and have a good deal of respect for your professionalism. However, your segment on women's concussions in soccer was a sham.
The alleged research that Kate Snow and her staff did in preparation for the segment, which also included my two interviews with Ms. Esposito (over 2 hours), was highly inadequate and would not pass muster with individuals skilled in the knowledge of brain injuries, concussions, and protective headgear for collision and contact sports. She also failed to understand the basic value of head protection in contact or collision sports. Therefore, a dangerous message was sent to the public, parents and coaches involved with children's soccer.
There are between 20 and 30 million children who play soccer in the United States. Hundreds if not thousands receive sub-concussive head injuries each week and do not know that their brains are injured and that the effects of sub-concussive head impacts are cumulative. Thus, they are exposed to a hidden danger that could be long-lasting and more dangerous than an actual concussion.
Mr. Skeet has very limited or no technical background and it is believed that he was or is involved in sales prior to his association with the Full 90 helmet. Their product is not a headband by definition. The outer ribbed cover of the product is essentially solid and the flimsy polymer inside cannot absorb or dissipate any more impact forces than a regular Nike sweatband. FIFA's ruling does not allow any part of the headgear to be "stiff or hard" and inflexible.
All of the questions asked were fair and easy but Mr. Skeet was not the one who had the expertise to reply. In addition, he has never had his helmet independently or extensively tested and has no data for anything he is claiming. In fact, the ASTM test that he states was passed was created by him and another executive in his company who was co-chair of the ASTM committee involved in the creation of the minimum voluntary standard which was approved in record time. (I have been a member of the ASTM since 1964 to the present time. It usually takes 3 to 5 years for a standard to be created and passed.)
The testing requirements for passing that standard are, in my opinion, extremely low based on my 40 years of testing every type of protective helmet for every sport. Once the standard was passed, Skeet's company, that had the backing from investors, hired and then sent their sales reps to Massachusetts and many other states in an attempt to force rules and regulations on the school systems to require that all students involved in sports wear their product because it passed the ASTM test. Not one municipality accepted their product.
In addition, the New York Times reported that the company was sponsoring athletic directors and coaches who ordered the Full 90 for their teams and paid various soccer players every time they wore their product.
Ms. Snow stated that the sales of the Full 90 helmet have reached 500,000. If that is true, why don't we see more players wearing their helmet? The fact is that soccer players do not like wearing a helmet and would rather wear a protective sweatband such as the Forcefield FF Protective Sweatband which I invented and have been awarded United States and foreign patents. Their product does not breathe like a regular sweatband. That is one of the reasons why the sales of our product has increased significantly over the last two years and we have become the fastest selling protective headgear/sweatband in the United States for the sport of soccer and other sports such as basketball, women's lacrosse and flag football. The protective sweatband is also utilized inside the helmets of professional jockeys and baseball helmets. The additional uses outside of sports are listed on www.forcefieldheadbands.com
Ms. Snow also interviewed a young women who had received 5 or 6 additional concussions plus unknown sub-concussive impacts after she started wearing the Full 90. What Ms. Snow did not do was ask her parents why they allowed her to continue playing after she received the second concussion. Furthermore, she did not ask the neurologist or treating physician why he/she allowed that young woman to continue to play or why her coach allowed her to continue to play. One of the reasons could be was that the coach was negligent. So were her parents. The doctor should have been sued for malpractice and her coach for gross negligence.
All of Mr. Skeet's replies indicate that he placed the Full 90 headgear in the stream of commerce without fully testing the integrity of his helmet. A large part of the independent testing performed on the Forcefield FF Protective Sweatband is published on our website at www.forcefieldheadbands.com. The integrity of the Forcefield product and its ability to reduce the risk of the severity of impact forces to the head/brain is well documented.
I explained to Sabrina Esposito and Ms. Snow in an email and in over two hours of interviews with Ms. Esposito that there is not one protective helmet in the world that can eliminate concussions. The main purpose of every type of protective headgear is to reduce the risk and severity of head injuries and nothing more. The ice hockey industry has done extremely well in designing their helmets in an attempt to eliminate subdural hematomas.
Dr. Cantu was honest enough to mention that fact. The only statement he has ever made is that headbands will not eliminate concussions. That statement, although correct, is not complete and does not incorporate what should be said with reference to all protective helmets. If said statement was true, everyone should remove his/her protective helmets and play football, ice hockey and lacrosse without any helmet whatsoever because they do not prevent concussions. That would not be a smart thing to do!
What Dr. Cantu did not state, because he is a surgeon and he fit into Ms. Snow's agenda for her segment, is that the impact force required to produce a sub-concussive injury and/or concussion is much lower than that impact force that produces the first injury. By wearing our Forcefield FF Protective Sweatband, there would be significant protection against impact forces to the brain. The test data documents that fact. Further, it should be noted that the force required to cause brain injuries varies according to neck and shoulder strength, the actual force, rotational forces and the location of the impact.
If you examine the published test data by independent laboratories in the United States and Europe on our website at www.forcefieldheadbands.com, it is obvious to anyone skilled in the knowledge of protective headgear that the Forcefield FF protective sweatband significantly reduces and dissipates the impact forces to the head and brain. That is contrary to what Ms. Snow brought out during Mr. Skeet's and Dr. Cantu's interviews. Neither of them had data to back up anything they were saying.
Furthermore, Dr. Cantu's placing the tips of his fingers together and demonstrating how the Full 90 bottoms out indicates his lack of knowledge of how the polymeric system behaves. It is similar to taking the end of a 6-inch high heel of a woman's shoe and placing it on the top of a shoe of an individual and stepping down. That finite force is significantly different than taking a full thumb and finger and attempting to squeeze and bottom out their product. Is it clear to me that Dr. Cantu is not familiar with the computerized testing involved with headforms and headgear that is used in evaluating protective headgear throughout North America, Europe and the Far East. We used that protocol with a triangular anvil in testing the Forcefield FF Protective Sweatband to demonstrate the integrity of our product.
As you may or may not know, all soccer players must wear approved shin guards on the field in order to play. Wouldn't an obvious question be: Dr. Cantu, what is more important--the shin areas of children or their brains?
In the 1990's up to 2001, Dr. Cantu published a grading system for head injuries including concussions (see below). One might further question whether this system of grading concussions had any veracity and may explain why it is no longer used. A concussion is a concussion.
Each week I receive dozens of calls and emails from parents whose children have received a concussion. I never advise anyone to "STAY IN THE GAME BY WEARING OUR HEADGEAR" and run the risk of further injury. Don't bother to close the barn door after the horse has escaped.
Although anyone can order our headgear on the Internet, I refuse to sell them anything when they call our office until they read my peer-reviewed article titled, "Your Body is Nothing Without a Brain." It gives the parents and their injured children an opportunity to prudently decide whether or not to continue with the sport.
As much as I am interested in selling products and protecting children, I am more concerned about anyone continuing in any sport once he/she has experienced a concussion.
• Concussion Severity: R.C. Cantu, 1991 Cantu's system is often used in research involving sports concussions.
Cantu Concussion Severity Grades (1991)
Grade 1: No Loss of Consciousness AND Post Traumatic Amnesia < 30 Minutes
Grade 2: Loss of Consciousness < 5 Minutes OR Post Traumatic Amnesia of 30 Minutes to 24 Hours
Grade 3: Loss of Consciousness > 5 Minutes OR Post Traumatic Amnesia > 24 Hours
• In 2001 Cantu's system was updated and included additional symptoms:
Grade 1: No Loss of Consciousness and Post-Traumatic Amnesia < 30 minutes, and post-concussion symptoms 15-30 min.
Grade 2: Loss of Consciousness < 1 minute or post-traumatic amnesia 30 min.- 24 hrs
Grade 3: Loss of Consciousness > 1 minute, Post-traumatic amnesia > 24hrs, or signs and symptoms < 1 week.