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A Helmet that Can Tell When the User Has a Concussion? Why Not?

Tuesday, June 27, 2017By Richard Alexander

Football is a rough sport. More than any other team sport, forceful physical contact is integral to the game. Unfortunately, it has only recently come to light that brain injury is a common result of all that contact.

The popular 2015 movie “Concussion” has propelled the issue of football-induced brain injury to the forefront of discussion at all levels of the sport. The movie told the real life story of Mike Webster, a player for the Pittsburgh Steelers, who was diagnosed with chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), which causes progressive degeneration of the brain.

A 2015 study by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and Boston University determined that of 94 deceased former National Football League players whose brain tissue was examined, 90 showed evidence of CTE.

The emergence of this connection between football and CTE has people involved at all levels of the sport scrambling to protect players from the disease. School athletic officials, parents, and medical practitioners are but a few of those who are looking for answers.

One of the answers being pursued is the design of a high-tech football helmet that contains sensors and can monitor the force of impacts. At a minimum, this type of technology can tell coaches and doctors how much trauma a player has experienced during a game or practice. Helmet sensors are already in use in college programs at LSU, Texas A&M, and Penn State.

As with all things technology, however, there is more to come. Intellectual Ventures, a company associated with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, has filed for a patent to develop a helmet containing sensors that would monitor the impact of collisions and transmit real-time data to designated persons on the sidelines. This information could indicate whether the impact might have caused a concussion, and it could help coaches and doctors make decisions about whether to send a player back into the game.

The proposed technology might also prevent injury by monitoring the integrity of the helmet. If damaged during play, sensors would report that information to the sidelines, and the helmet could be repaired or replaced.

To overcome the possibility of transmitted data being missed or ignored, the patent application proposes that when an impact meets an established threshold that indicates injury or helmet failure, the helmet make an audible sound or even emit smoke to signal a problem. This would help prevent the error of allowing a player to continue playing in the game after being injured or with a faulty helmet.

You can rely on the compassionate San Francisco personal injury attorneys at Alexander Law Group, LLP to guide you through the difficult time that follows a traumatic brain injury. We are here for our clients and will passionately seek appropriate compensation for you. Contact us today for a free case evaluation.

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