This article is from the In-Depth Report The Science of Concussion and Brain Injury
60-Second Tech

Smart Helmets Could Flag Players at Trauma Risk

Force sensors in headgear could signal whether a hit is strong enough to cause concern should the player receive a second serious blow. Larry Greenemeier reports

Headed into this year's football season, much was made of the NFL's efforts to better protect players from serious injury. Concussions were a particular concern, yet this season has seen more than its share of players sidelined due to brain trauma. lists more than 75 players who've sustained concussions so far this season.

Researchers at Sandia National Laboratories and the University of New Mexico are using supercomputer simulations to study the relationship between the size and direction of concussive force and traumatic brain injury, or TBI. They're focusing on soldiers, but the findings apply to the gridiron as well. The hope is that helmet designers can use this data to better protect both soldiers and athletes.

It's debatable whether any helmet can truly prevent TBI, but one idea is to embed sensors in the headgear that signal whether the impact of a hit is strong enough to cause concern. That way, even if a nasty hit doesn't cause a concussion, a team would know to remove a player from the game to avoid a second hit that could cause brain damage.

—Larry Greenemeier

[The above text is a transcript of this podcast.]

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