I came across an article on Forbes discussing comments made by Reebok-CCM hockey with regards to Bauer’s RE-AKT helmet. Apparently the head of Reebok-CCM is not too happy about the claims Bauer has made regarding its helmet. The RE-AKT’s unique selling point has been its ability to reduce the rotational impact forces. Personally, I’m not entirely sure how the helmet does this and questions I sent to Bauer at the launch of the helmet were not answered.
Reebok-CCM’s general manager Phil Dubé says in the Frobes.com story that “The topic of head injuries in hockey is too important and of serious concern to the general public to be subject of confusion in the marketplace regarding product performance.” Dubé continued by stating that “When I visit retailers, the first thing I hear about is the RE-AKT helmet doing something no other helmet does. Some of our helmets are better and superior to that helmet designed for that particular kind of protection. The advertising is misleading consumers and retail customers. The best helmet is the one that fits the best.”
It’s an interesting point, apart from the plug of CCM and Reebok products, as hockey as a whole has been gripped by the concussion epidemic, which has seen players like Marc Savard and Chris Pronger side-lined indefinitely and has ended the careers of the likes of Paul Kariya. I had written about hockey helmets and whether they protect enough at Pucks ATP and as you can see I referenced the RE-AKT helmet there as well. Basically, the RE-AKT is said to protect the brain from excessive intra-cranial movement due to the helmet’s liner.
What makes the story so interesting is that in the American Football market, helmet manufacturer Riddell is currently undergoing litigation for falsely marketing its helmets as having the ability to reduce the risk of concussions by a substantial percentage.
As concussions are considered an epidemic, many helmet manufacturers have now made more of an effort in designs and marketing materials to reduce the risk of concussion. As with any helmet, it should be noted that no helmet is 100% concussion proof. I’m a huge M11 helmet fan now days and I understand that the even though the helmet has undergone a series of impact tests, it won’t guarantee that my brain is 100% safe from concussion. The manufacturer says on its front page that the “M11 is proven to absorb more energy from high impact linear forces than other premium helmets to provide maximum protection”
I wonder how long it will take before one of the helmet manufacturers will be facing a litigation due to false claims of protection. What is important in helmet technologies is that the helmet fits on the head of the player properly. Choosing a helmet should follow the same criteria as choosing skates or other protective equipment.
What I would like to see in the industry is to set standards of head protection and then follow these standards and that the core elements of head protection are available in each helmet. What we must not fall into is that the concussion epidemic becomes a pure marketing technique for companies. Hockey is a contact sport and unfortunately injuries do happen, regardless of what equipment you use.
The original Forbes story can be found here.
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