Helmets & Mouthguards

Lewis Roberts-Thomson, wearing a helmet in his return from a cheekbone fracture
Helmets
  • There is no definitive scientific evidence that helmets prevent concussion or other brain injuries in Australian football
  • There is some evidence that younger players who wear a helmet may change their playing style, and receive more head impacts as a result
  • Accordingly, helmets are not recommended for the prevention of concussion
  • Helmets may have a role in the protection of players on return to play following specific injuries (e.g. face or skull fractures)
Mouthguards
  • Mouthguards have a definite role in preventing injuries to the teeth and face and for this reason they are strongly recommended at all levels of football
  • Dentally fitted laminated mouthguards offer the best protection. ‘Boil and bite’ type mouthguards are not recommended for any level of play as they can dislodge during play and block the airway
  • There is no definitive scientific evidence that mouthguards prevent concussion or other brain injuries in Australian Football

This document has been published by the AFL as a position statement on the role of helmets and mouthguards in Australian Football. It is based on advice provided by the AFL Concussion Working Group and AFL Medical Officers' Association.
- July, 2012

References
  1. McCrory P, Meeuwisse W, Johnston K, Dvorak J, Aubry M, Molloy M, et al. Consensus Statement on Concussion in Sport: the 3rd International Conference on Concussion in Sport held in Zurich, November 2008. Br J Sports Med. 2009 May;43 Suppl 1:i76-90.
  2. Makdissi M, McCrory P, Ugoni A, Darby D, Brukner P. A prospective study of postconcussive outcomes after return to play in Australian football. Am J Sports Med. 2009 May;37(5):877-83.
  3. Iverson GL, Gaetz M, Lovell MR, Collins MW. Cumulative effects of concussion in amateur athletes. Brain Inj. 2004 May;18(5):433-43.
  4. McKee AC, Cantu RC, Nowinski CJ, Hedley-Whyte ET, Gavett BE, Budson AE, et al. Chronic traumatic encephalopathy in athletes: progressive tauopathy after repetitive head injury. Journal of Neuropathology and Experimental Neurology. [Case Reports Review]. 2009 Jul;68(7):709-35.
    Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
    Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
    Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  5. Jordan BD, Relkin NR, Ravdin LD, Jacobs AR, Bennett A, Gandy S. Apolipoprotein E epsilon4 associated with chronic traumatic brain injury in boxing. Jama. 1997 Jul 9;278(2):136-40.
  6. Benson BW, Hamilton GM, Meeuwisse WH, McCrory P, Dvorak J. Is protective equipment useful in preventing concussion? A systematic review of the literature. Br J Sports Med. 2009 May;43 Suppl 1:i56-67.
  7. Hagel B, Meeuwisse W. Risk compensation: a "side effect" of sport injury prevention? Clin J Sport Med. 2004 Jul;14(4):193-6.
  8. Heintz W. The case for mandatory mouth protectors. Phys Sportsmed. 1975;3:61-3.
Concussion Management
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