Now that it’s going to be fall, football seasons for high school, collegiate and NFL teams will be in full swing soon. Since the game requires rough physical contact, it is important that players of the game are provided with sufficient gear that protects them from severe injuries. An injury that contact sport athletes often suffer from is a concussion, a brain injury that is “caused by a bump, blow or jolt to the head that can change the way your brain normally works,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Due to increased media coverage on concussions and the potential dangers of football, researchers are finding ways to better understand and prevent concussions.
Many characteristics of concussions remain shrouded in mystery. For instance, it is unknown whether a player is more susceptible to a concussion as a result of sustaining one large impact to the head or as a result of sustaining a large number of medium impact hits. Researchers with the Orthopaedic Research Society have designed a new system to better understand head impacts. The Head Impact Telemetry (HIT) measures “how hard, how often and where on the helmet an impact occurs,” according to the press release.
The HIT system has six accelerometers in a special liner in the helmet. The liners prevent the accelerometers from recording shell vibrations. Every time the helmet receives a blow, the head’s acceleration is recorded and transmitted to a computer located on the sideline of the field. Additionally, the system can release a beeping sound whenever a particularly hard hit is sustained and alert medical professionals. With the HIT, researchers are able to quantify head impact exposure for the first time.
The researchers hope that their research will inspire changes to football rules, better helmet designs and an overall reduction in the number of concussions. Already, the NFL has started a $10 million program to find more shock absorbent materials for helmets this week, according to USA Today. Head injuries from contact sports will remain an important point of research for many.