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Used Football Faceshields May Break on Impact
Date:6/2/2011

THURSDAY, June 2 (HealthDay News) -- They are meant to protect football players' eyes from serious injury, but new research reveals that used faceshields are more likely to break on high-velocity impact.

The survey of college football equipment managers, conducted by Ohio State University, also found that only about 50 percent of the schools questioned had a replacement policy in place for used or damaged shields.

In the study, published in the journal Optometry, researchers tested the durability of new and game-worn faceshields by hurling baseballs at them with an air canon at five different velocities, ranging from 116 to 150 miles per hour (roughly the equivalent of an adult kicking a soccer ball). Although all the new faceshields were unaffected, more than one-third of the used faceshields cracked during testing -- even at lower forces of contact.

"Based on the results, we felt that multiple impacts to shields were probably the likely cause for the lower resistance to impact over time," study author Aaron Zimmerman, an assistant professor of optometry at Ohio State, said in a university news release. "No matter what the cause is, you do not want to have a protective device fail and potentially cause a more severe injury."

The researchers argued their findings were significant given the fact that only about half of the football programs evaluated replaced faceshields that have minor scratches or cracks. The study also found that about one-third of the programs would replace a faceshield if it was substantially damaged, and 10 percent would replace it but only if the damage affected a player's ability to see.

Just one manager reported that new faceshields -- which cost around $40 to $50 a shield -- were distributed to players before every game.

The researchers concluded that college football programs should develop a universal policy or set of guidelines for routine inspection and replacemen
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