COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - Before hitting the field, football players put on their jerseys, pads and helmets. Although it's usually the last piece snapped on, the helmet is worn to protect one of the most important muscles in the game the brain.
"A football helmet is designed to absorb some of the force from a blow," says Dr. Joseph Zanga, a pediatrician at Columbus Regional Medical Center.
And while helmets like this one may protect players heads and faces from broken bones, Dr. Zanga says the padding on the inside does very little to protect the brain from concussions.
"It's not necessarily going to reduce the force that's transmitted from the outside to the inside to the brain," Dr. Zanga adds.
The updated Consensus Statement on Concussion in Sports reveals the use of helmets and mouth guards may give players a false sense of security and safety during play.
"If they believe they're protected, they may take chances in blocking, tackling, falling," explains Dr. Zanga.
That puts players of all ages at risk for a concussion.
While there are links to NFL players developing Alzheimer's or other neurological complications as long-term effects of concussions, Dr. Zanga says the research leaves him with one aching question.
"Will that be more common in a child that's had that kind of an injury and might it occur sooner?" he quizzes.
Dr. Zanga stresses the importance of education regarding concussions as a preventative measure for all ages. He adds new research is being released weekly on new advances in detection and treatment of the injuries.
And remember, the best way to avoid a concussion is to avoid bumps or falls on the head as much as possible.