Reebok-CCM Resistance helmet

Reebok-CCM tested its Resistance helmet, but the Competition Bureau said any claims that it protects against concussion are not verifiable. (Reebok-CCM)

Reebok-CCM has been told by the Competition Bureau that it cannot claim its hockey helmets prevent head injuries such as concussions.

Nine months after a Virginia Tech study showed that most hockey helmets on the market weren't adequate to reduce the risk of head injuries, the sportswear maker has agreed to cease marketing its helmets as a way of preventing concussions.  

The bureau announced today that Reebok-CCM had agreed to remove or modify the claims from all marketing material, including packaging and online advertising for its CCM Resistance hockey helmet. It also must prevent retailers from making such claims.

The Ottawa-based regulator said testing done by Reebok-CCM on the helmets was  "not adequate and proper to support the marketing claims."

It made the same demand in November 2014 to Bauer to remove marketing claims that its RE-AKT helmet could help prevent concussions.

Researchers urge redesign of helmets

The Virginia Tech study evaluated helmets based on the rotational acceleration that occurs when the head turns on impact, a common factor in concussions. It also tested linear acceleration, or motion in the direction of the impact, assigning a measure for level of impact.

'Current hockey helmet testing standards are aimed at protecting players from catastrophic brain injuries, such as skull fractures, not concussions' - Competition Bureau

It concluded that no hockey helmet on the market actually prevented concussions, though they will prevent skull fractures.

The researchers urged redesign of hockey helmets along the lines of football helmets, which cover more of the head and have a different style of padding.

In its warning to Reebok-CCM, the Competition Bureau points out that the science behind concussions in sports is still in its infancy and the role of helmets remains unclear.

"Current hockey helmet testing standards are aimed at protecting players from catastrophic brain injuries, such as skull fractures, not concussions," the bureau said in a news release.

"There are a multitude of factors such as age, weight, strength of the player, location of impact, and whether the hit was or was not anticipated when assessing concussion injury risk related to sports."

Reebok-CCM must pay $30,000 to cover the cost of the bureau's investigation and donate $475,000 in equipment to a Canadian charity that allows underprivileged children or youth to play sports.