Head Games
New devices reveal the extent of athletes’ head injuries
Play / 23 Jul 2013
U.S. emergency rooms treat more than 173,000 sports- and recreation-related brain injuries annually, and that's just among people under 19 years old. Many go undetected at first, leading to more severe health issues. As such, a slew of major studies and new regulations are aimed at preventing the problem, and new devices have emerged to immediately detect when athletes have experienced serious head trauma.
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CheckLight
: Reebok and electronics developer MC10 recently released CheckLight, a skullcap that lights up when an athlete experiences a potentially serious head injury. Electronic sensors embedded in the hat trigger a yellow LED light when the wearer has suffered a moderate impact and a red light for a severe one. Coaches, trainers, and other spectators can thus determine when an athlete should be removed from a game for medical attention. Sensors also keep track of the number of impacts that occur over time. The hat is designed to be worn alone or under a helmet with the LED lights still visible.
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Shockbox
: Shockbox is a helmet sensor that measures g-force when an athlete hits his head. The device sends color-coded alerts based on the severity of the injury via Bluetooth to a smartphone running the Shockbox app. Shockbox then suggests whether or not an athlete should stop playing and provides relevant concussion symptoms. Further preventing injuries, the app offers memory and balance tests that coaches, trainers, or parents can conduct on injured players. Up to 128 Shockbox devices can be connected to a single phone, allowing coaches to monitor their entire team and the history of all players’ head injuries simultaneously.
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X-Patch
: Seattle-based X2 Biosystems’ X-Patch is a rechargeable adhesive sensor that provides data about head injuries in real-time. Founder Rich Able created the device after his son hit his head while playing football and didn’t realize the severity of the impact until much later. The patch is placed behind the ears and wirelessly transmits information about an injury to those on the sidelines via the X2 companion app. Data can also be stored in a cloud management system to record players’ injury histories. Currently, the patch is being used by athletes at select universities, but it will be available nationally next summer.
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