Primeau wants better protection

DAVID W. UNKLE -- For SLAM! Sports

, Last Updated: 5:59 AM ET

VOORHEES, N.J. -- During Tuesday morning's press conference in which he announced that he would not return during the 2005-06 regular season, Philadelphia Flyers centre Keith Primeau took aim at one of the culprits in the growing number of closed head injuries among ice hockey players.

Weighing approximately three pounds, Primeau feels that "there can be a better helmet."

"The helmets that we use now are nowhere near protective enough and or give us the type of safety that we need and it's the stereotype of the esthetics of the helmet versus the protection of the helmet," said Primeau.

Concussion is a growing concern in the National Hockey League and a number of professional and amateur organizations.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that there are approximately 300,000 sports-related concussions each year although the actual number may be higher due to under-reporting.

According to the American Academy of Neurology (AAN) concussion is defined as "a trauma-induced alteration in mental status that may or may not involve loss of consciousness"

"I don't know if in a full contact sport like hockey you can completely erase concussion issues," said Primeau. "It's not just head trauma anymore, it is body contact that can rattle your brain."

The use of mouth guards is another way that players can minimize the neurological damage of concussion.

"A larger percentage of the players now wear mouth guards," said Primeau. "I never wore a mouth guard until my last (concussion) two years ago and I wouldn't go out without one now."

Primeau sees his own equipment company, Oshawa-based Fury Hockey (www.furyhockey.ca) one day designing the prototype hockey helmet that combines safety and functionality.

"We're working on it and we're hoping to make some progress in that regard."


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