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Adam Bartsch, Edward Benzel, Vincent Miele and Vikas Prakash

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Robert Cantu, Pat Bishop, Stefan Duma, Tom Gennarelli, Richard M. Greenwald, Kevin Guskiewicz, Frederick O. Mueller, P. Dave Halstead, Thomas Blaine Hoshizaki, Albert I. King and Margot Putukian

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Adam Bartsch, Edward Benzel, Vincent Miele and Vikas Prakash


Concussion is the signature American football injury of the 21st century. Modern varsity helmets, as compared with vintage leather helmets, or “leatherheads,” are widely believed to universally improve protection by reducing head impact doses and head injury risk for the 3 million young football players in the US. The object of this study was to compare the head impact doses and injury risks with 11 widely used 21st century varsity helmets and 2 early 20th century leatherheads and to hypothesize what the results might mean for children wearing similar varsity helmets.


In an injury biomechanics laboratory, the authors conducted front, oblique front, lateral, oblique rear, and rear head impact tests at 5.0 m/second using helmeted headforms, inducing near- and subconcussive head impact doses on par with approximately the 95th percentile of on-field collision severity. They also calculated impact dose injury risk parameters common to laboratory and on-field traumatic neuromechanics: linear acceleration, angular acceleration, angular velocity, Gadd Severity Index, diffuse axonal injury, acute subdural hematoma, and brain contusion.


In many instances the head impact doses and head injury risks while wearing vintage leatherheads were comparable to or better than those while wearing several widely used 21st century varsity helmets.


The authors do not advocate reverting to leather headgear, but they do strongly recommend, especially for young players, instituting helmet safety designs and testing standards, which encourage the minimization of linear and angular impact doses and injury risks in near- and subconcussive head impacts.

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Lee Kesterson, Edward Benzel, William Orrison and James Coleman

✓ Although several large series of atlas fractures have been reported recently, none has concentrated on the evaluation and treatment of atlas burst fractures (Jefferson fractures). The treatment of this fracture is challenging. Its diagnosis may easily be missed due to concerns about associated trauma and absence of neurological signs. In addition, the open-mouth anteroposterior x-ray study, which is usually pathognomonic for the diagnosis, is often inadequate or not obtained. In order to clarify the diagnosis and treatment of this disorder, 17 cases of Jefferson fracture treated between 1982 and 1989 at the Louisiana State University Affiliated Hospitals are presented.

The diagnosis was delayed in three patients because of a low index of suspicion and inadequate x-ray films. Four patients were noted to have unstable Jefferson fractures; all of these had an associated Type II odontoid fracture and were treated with occiput-C-2 wiring and fusion. The remainder of the patients had stable Jefferson fractures and were managed with Minerva jackets or rigid collar stabilization. No significant complications related to the treatment of the Jefferson fracture occurred in this series. One patient died from associated injuries: however, the remaining patients enjoyed an excellent long-term result with the acquisition of spinal stability and the resolution of subjective complaints.