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Helmet pads help players' heads



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June 19, 2013 - With extra padding on the outside, Guardian Caps can make football helmets look a bit unusual.

But they can save lives, said Dave Hopkins of Clarkston, local sales representative for the Georgia-based company.

"I've been around sports my whole life. Concussions are a big issue," said Hopkins, who has coached hockey and is a guest teacher in Clarkston, Lake Orion and Brandon Schools. "As a parent and a coach, we should do what we can to protect kids."

Clipping onto the helmet, the pads are filled with compressible gel and covered in low-friction, waterproof fabric. The cap reduces impact by a third.

"They don't prevent concussions, but do reduce the impact – the only way to prevent concussions is to not play football," Hopkins said.

They're intended for use in practice, not games.

"Studies show probably 90 percent of head-to-head hits happen during practice – football players spend most of the time practicing," he said.

Two Clarkston athletes used them last year, with more in the area trying them out this year.

"They're catching on, and becoming more and more popular," Hopkins said. "Kids think they're awkward. Vanity for teens is very important. It's just a matter of getting used to it. Fifty years ago, the modern helmet would look strange too. The important thing is to be as safe as you can."

They run for $55 each. Check www.guardiancaps.com.

Phil is editor for The Clarkston News. He is a veteran of the first Iraq war, having served in the U.S. Army.
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