As the rate of concussions and long-term damage to brain injuries has become better-known thanks to lawsuits against the NFL, schools have taken a more proactive stance in trying to understand these injuries. At Stanford University, the football team, field hockey team, and lacrosse team are all testing a new, high-tech mouthpiece that measures the force of brain impacts received during play.
New Measurement Tools
A Seattle based company, X2 Impact, has donated the mouthpieces to study their usefulness in play. The mouthpieces have several sensors that measure forces that contribute to causing concussions, including accelerometers and gyro meters to measure the speed and twist of impact, and were tested by repeatedly dropping crash-test dummy heads with the mouthpiece attached. The hope is that the measurements will help the medical and sports communities understand what kind of hits are likely to cause concussions and, possibly, to help know when a player should be taken off the field and what kind of treatment they will need.
Mouthguards Before now, similar high-tech sensors have been placed in the helmets of football players. This is a good solution for schools with money, but the helmets are much more expensive than. The researchers also believe that the mouthpiece will be much more accurate because they don’t shift on impact.
The Dangers of Concussions
Concussions have become a real concern in recent years, especially at schools that pride themselves both on academic achievement and athletic achievement. A 2000 survey of retired NFL players revealed that those who had suffered at least one concussion were much more likely to report memory loss, headaches, and other neurological problems. The same year a study revealed that many high school and college students were receiving the same kind of head injuries and likely underreporting them. While the short-term effects of confusion and blurred vision have been known for years, the longterm damage had not been well-publicized until the recent NFL lawsuits.
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