This season, Stanford's football team will bite into protective mouth guards that record and report concussions during games and practices. The real-time data will help researchers understand what positions may be more dangerous and help them see what kinds of collisions lead to concussions.
The football players will be using a mouth guard technology developed by a Seattle-based startup called X2 Impact. Its sensors have accelerometers and gyrometers that measure head impacts.
The six sensors in the mouth guard records impact in real-time and it sends it to the mobile devices at the sideline. A computer algorithm performed on the sidelines will pick up the data that is transmitted. It will be compared to actual video of the events, so it can identify what kind of play or tackle caused the injury.
“This study will build toward establishing clinically relevant head-impact correlations and thresholds to allow for a better understanding of the biomechanics of brain injuries,” Dan Garza, MD, a professor at Stanford School of Medicine, said in a statement. “It also will serve as a helpful tool to aid in the diagnosis and subsequent management of concussions.”
More football players have been talking publicly about the dangers of concussions: Seventy five former football players are suing the National Football League for hiding concussion risks until June 2010. More research is raising the general public's awareness of the dangers of repeated concussions. Late last year, Boston University researchers discovered a link between getting banged in the head a lot (repetitive head trauma) and a similar disease to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) or Lou Gehrig’s disease.
Beyond the football field, Stanford researchers want to measure what's happening on the women's field hockey and lacrosse teams as well. The Stanford study results will be published in 2012.
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