Can Wearable Technology Save Football?

PBS and NOVA Give a Behind the Scene Look at How Athlete Intelligence is Helping Football Athletes Stay Safe

The dangers of football is always a hot topic.  Studies have found that high rates of head impacts, concussions, and head related injuries can lead to long-term brain disorder.  A concussion occurs when a collision causes the brain to hit the inside of the skull.  The greater the force of the impact to a players head, the more severe the concussion.  After suffering one concussion, an athlete is more likely to suffer from a second.  However it is crucial an athlete is removed from play following a concussion.

While sports will always have risks, there are ways teams can attempt to avoid concussions and serious injury.  Traditionally, helmets, pads, and mouth guards are most widely used, however there is no evidence they  prevent concussions. Researches suggest the best way to prevent concussions is to eliminate head contact.

But can new technology help Coaches make more informed decisions and make the game safer for all players?  Football is a full contact sport, but new technology can help players block and tackle more safely by collecting data on the frequency, location, and severity of each impact sustained during both games and practices.  When a player takes an impact, the sensor registers where the impact occurred on the athletes head as well as how hard the impact is.  If a hit exceeds a set threshold, the device sends an alert to the Coach or Athletic Trainer on the sidelines who can use that information when determining if they should pull the athlete.

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Technology alone cannot solve the concussion crisis, but data does become a missing resource in the cohesive approach to helping make football safer for every athlete.  If we know how many impacts our players take, we can reduce the number.  If we reduce the number of head impacts we reduce the risk of concussions.

Data helps a Coach see all the hits, not just the big hits.  Research studies link high impact exposure rates to poor technique and high risk of injury.  Coaches with impact data can identify players with the high impact workloads and better manage their exposure rates.


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