Monday, October 17, 2005

When Concussions Meet Technology

There's a fascinating article online about how three universities (North Carolina, Virginia Tech, and Oklahoma) are participating in a program to study concussions. Here's how it works:
The system works like this: Six tiny sensor chips, called accelerometers, are embedded in the padding of a helmet. They measure the acceleration and deceleration of the head, to determine the location and magnitude of any impact, Guskiewicz said.

A small radio imbedded in the helmet sends the information to a sideline unit, where a laptop computer analyzes and saves the data.

That's some amazing technology. If a player has symptoms of a concussion, their hit data can be pulled up in real-time for review.

Concussions can occur with forces higher than 80 Gs, according to the article, and about 1.7% of the hits recorded at North Carolina have exceeded that threshold (though only rarely causing a concussion).

I think this technology or something like it will be mandatory in the NFL within ten years.

It's an interesting article, from both the science and sports angles, and here's the link:

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