The combined tool approach for face mask removal during on-field conditions


Context: An effective approach to emergency removal of the face mask (FM) from a football helmet should include successful removal of the FM and limitation of both the time required and the movement created during the process. Current recommendations and practice are to use a cutting tool to remove the FM. Researchers recently have suggested an alternate approach that combines the use of a cordless screwdriver and a cutting tool. This combined tool approach has not been studied, and FM removal has not been studied in a practical setting. Objective: To investigate the effectiveness and speed of using a combined tool approach to remove the FMs from football helmets during on-field conditions throughout the course of a football season. Design: Randomized multigroup design. Setting: Practice field of 1 National Collegiate Athletic Association Division II football college. Patients or Other Participants: Eighty-four members of 1 football team. Intervention(s): We used a battery-ope rated screwdriver for FM removal and resorted to using a cutting tool as needed. Main Outcome Measure(s): We tracked FM removal success and failure and trial time and compared results based on helmet characteristics, weather variables, and the seasonal timing of the removal trial. Results: Of the 84 players, 76 were available for data-collection trials. Overall, 98.6% (75/76) of FM removal trials were successful and resulted in a mean removal time of 40.09 +/- 15.1 seconds. We found no differences in FM removal time throughout the course of the season. No differences in effectiveness or trial time were found among helmet characteristics, weather variables, or the timing of the trial. Conclusions: Combining the cordless screwdriver and cutting tool provided a fast and reliable means of on-field FM removal in this Division II setting. Despite the excellent overall result, 1 FM was not removed in a timely manner. Therefore, we recommend that athletic trainers practice helmet removal to be prepared should FM removal fail.



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Journal of Athletic Training


National Athletic Trainers Association

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