U.S. Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.) is pressuring the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to be tougher on companies that market sports equipment that implies – or outright claims – to prevent concussions.
Udall asked the FTC chairwoman Edith Ramirez to review claims by Shock Doctor, the company that manufactures the official mouth guard for USA Football. The company’s website claims its mouth guard “absorbs shock to help protect against brain concussions,” and “shock absorbing jaw pads help protect against concussions.”
This isn’t Udall’s first crack at hammering down on companies that tout that their sports equipment helps protect against head injuries. Last year, Udall, along with Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), drafted a letter asking the FTC to investigate claims by a one company that claimed its headgear could prevent or protect soccer players from head injuries.
In 2014, the FTC took five major retailers to task over claims they had made regarding mouthpieces they carried. Prior to that, the FTC warned 18 companies over claims they made involving mouth guards and helmets, one of which involved charges that were settled with helmet maker Riddell.
Udall says the FTC’s previous warnings are not strong enough because manufacturers continue to allegedly market their products making elaborate claims of protection. “It is past time to put an end to these dangerous ‘anti concussion’ marketing claims for youth sports gear,” he said during a Senate Commerce Committee hearing last month. Ramirez assured the senator that the FTC would take a very close look at the claims.
Headgear, helmets, mouth guards and face shields play a role in reducing the incidence of concussion, but prospective studies show the preventative effect of these products may be limited. For example, football helmets may protect athletes’ heads, but they “do nothing to mitigate the effects of brain slosh,” said Gregory Myer, PhD, of Cincinnati Children’s Medical Center in a review published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine. “Therefore, in terms of concussion prevention, football helmet improvements may be reaching a point of diminishing returns and are not likely to be the solution to the concussion issue.”
Udall co-authored The Youth Sports Concussion Act, which will allow the FTC to increase penalties to companies for making concussion-prevention claims.
Source: MedPage Today