Archived Webinars

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Concussions & Helmets – Separating Fact from Fiction


On January 25, 2011, at 2 p.m. ET, The TASA Group, Inc., in conjunction with human factors experts Will Nelson and Mark Heidebrecht, presented a free, one-hour, interactive webinar, Concussions & Helmets – Separating Fact from Fiction, for all legal professionals.

Helmets for head protection are standard equipment in sports such as baseball, football, auto racing, hockey, and ski jumping; and routinely used in sports such as bicycling, motorcycling, skateboarding, snowboarding, and skiing. Over the past several years, the media has increasingly focused their attention on the number of athletes at all levels that have had concussions from their participation in these sports. This has particularly been so with football due to recent widely viewed plays resulting in concussions of prominent NFL athletes as well as widely reported high school incidents. Reports indicate that the number of concussions continues to increase with over 3.8 million sports and recreation related concussions and over 300,000 loss of consciousness concussions occurring each year in the US.

While helmet innovation has occurred over the past 20 years, many schools and community sports programs continue to use older helmets that have been refurbished under little oversight and minimal standards. The proliferation of the various types of helmets has also resulted in a proliferation of design, testing and certification standards and guidelines which can be not only confusing but often times results in questionable value to the end user. School budgets are under tremendous pressure, which makes the lowest cost method of acquiring sports equipment a priority, and results many times in the continued use of refurbished helmets. In addition, today’s athletes are bigger, stronger and faster than ever resulting in collisions of significantly greater force.

During the program, our presenters covered the following:

  • The 3 grades of concussions
  • Standard Assessment of Concussion (SAC)
  • Biomechanics and long term consequences of concussions
  • Helmets role in preventing, or contributing, to a concussion
  • Industry efforts in helping to prevent concussions in their sport
  • The role of a Human Factors expert in concussion prevention and the management process
  • Independent standards testing agencies
  • Proper inspection, maintenance and replacement of helmets
  • Sense of security helmets provide to athletes, coaches, parents and school administrators
  • Warnings, labels and instructions adequate for helmets

About the Experts

William Nelson has over 30 years of experience in ergonomics, biomechanics, and human factors principles. Mr. Nelson’s expertise and areas of specialization include product liability, personal injury, premises liability, and accident reconstruction. He has been directly involved with the commercialization of emerging technologies such as holography, lasers, acoustic reflectometry, and electronics. Of special interest to Mr. Nelson are the unintended consequences from the use of emerging technologies in today’s multicultural society. Of particular interest is the emerging research in the areas of driver distraction, sports injuries, and medical errors, and how to help prevent injuries. Mr. Nelson has been a presenter at national and international conferences. He has over 18 years of litigation support experience as an expert witness throughout the U.S. in municipal, state and federal court, as well as experience with the Daubert hearing process.

Mr. Heidebrecht has 20 years of experience in the research and application of ergonomics, biomechanics, physiology, and human factors principles. As a board-certified ergonomics/human factors professional, Mr. Heidebrecht includes the following in his areas of specialization: product liability, personal injury, premises liability, and accident reconstruction. Areas of special interest include injury causation, driver distraction, helmets & concussions, and medical errors. Mr. Heidebrecht developed and teaches a preparation course for professionals pursuing certification in human factors and ergonomics. He has testified as an expert before OSHA regarding the proposed Ergonomic Standard and was asked to present to the National Academy of Sciences regarding the effectiveness of ergonomic interventions and the early identification of musculoskeletal disorders. Mr. Heidebrecht has been involved in product development and commercialization of medical products using emerging technologies. He has also presented to and consulted with numerous corporate clients, governments, and educational and medical institutions throughout the U.S. He has given litigation support as an expert witness throughout the U.S. in municipal, state and federal court, as well as with the Daubert hearing process.
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