How safe are football helmets used by high school athletes?

(Western Mass News photo)

The safety of football helmets and concussions are coming under more and more scrutiny at all levels of the sport.

If your student-athlete is playing football, how can you tell if the helmet being used is as safe as it can be?

Not all football helmets are created equal when it comes to how safe they are.

Some are more safe than others, according to a recent study done at Virginia Tech.

"We use a Shutt brand helmet. We use two different kinds. We try to get the best quality helmet we can," said Dave Stratton, director of athletics at Agawam High School.

More and more emphasis is being placed on the safety of football helmets for high school as well as professional athletes.

Virginia Tech has come out with a ranking system for football helmets.

Stratton said that the Shutt brand Agawam uses ranks high on the list.

"As far as Shutt is concerned, they're the best helmet we can get our hands on at the high school level," Stratton added.

The helmets have to be re-certified each year, making it as safe as possible for your high school athlete .

The helmets are also custom fit to the individual student-athletes head, then they can be air adjusted.

"So you can use a hand pump for this helmet, so we can add air to the helmet to make it fit better because the fit of the helmet - the right helmet, size, and fit for the athlete - makes it really safe," Stratton explained.

Stratton also said that while helmets have to be re-certified for safety every year, no helmet can be more than 10 years old. He emphasized that no helmet is 100 percent concussion proof.

"I think the most important thing is recognition and make sure our equipment is as good as it can be because there's no helmet on the planet that can prevent a concussion," Stratton noted.

Contact sports are inherently dangerous, but steps can be taken to minimize the risk of serious injury, including concussion.

"With proper tackling techniques, proper equipment, and recognition of concussion and brain injury, all of those things will benefit us a great deal," Stratton said.

Not all high schools are playing with Shutt helmets.

In Springfield, for example, all high schools use the latest model Riddell helmets, according to school spokesperson Azell Cavaan.

For a list of the football helmet ratings published by Virginia Tech, you can CLICK HERE.

Copyright 2017 Western Mass News (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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