We monitor brain injuries and concussion dangers in sporting injuries suffered in school kids as well as college athletes and pro players (see earlier posts here). It’s a growing danger for those playing football as well as other contact sports.
As the reality of traumatic brain injuries and sports conclusions continues to be faced by parents, coaches, teachers, spouses, and others who have had a loved one seriously injured or permanently harmed (or even killed) while playing football, soccer, baseball, wrestling, or other sports, developers have been working hard to find new technologies to help fight these injuries from happening or to notify coaches and others as soon as possible that a head injury as occurred.
1. Headband Sensors
BlackBox Biometrics has developed a headband insert for players to wear under their helmets that is about the size of your thumb. It contains sensors that monitor the amount of force and impact felt by the wearer. Called the Linx Impact Assessment System (IAS), the headband gizmo alerts coaches, parents, and others through an app of what the player has experienced as it happens.
If the “red alert” is sent, the player has experienced a force which can cause serious injury and needs to be evaluated.
2. Mouthguards with Apps
This year, a new kind of mouthguard will be available for players, called the FITGuard. It has lights that change color based upon the forced felt by the mouthguard’s internal monitors. It also has computer connections via an app to allow coaches and others to monitor what the player is experiencing. A color warning will notify everyone of a hit that has been delivered with such force that there is danger of head injury or concussion, allowing the player to be removed from the field and evaluated for injury from the impact.
3. Smart Helmets
Helmets with impact sensors and apps to deliver information on impact and force are also being developed for use by football players. Riddell has already begun selling its INSITE helmet with 5 different impact sensors that report both the intensity of the impact as well as the direction of the force and how long it was felt by the player.
4. Magnet Inserts for Helmets
This technology seeks to use existing helmets and make them better at protecting the wearer through the use of magnets. The idea is that the magnets will pull energy from the impact’s force essentially pushing back against the impact to minimize the force felt by the person wearing the helmet. Developed by Raymond Colello, Ph.D., of the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine, this adaptation of team helmets might be the most popular since it might spare teams the expense of buying new helmets as Colello’s magnets are designed to fit into current helmets on the market.
How does this work? Magnets can push back up to 130 lbs of force at as little as 1.5 inches in distances, and the new technology promises that the G-forces felt in a football impact could be lessened by as much as HALF.
Now, the question becomes: when are those Powers that Be that control what players wear on the field going to begin using these safety devices, and what is their duty to provide these safety devices to players on the field?