Mobile Technology Tackles Concussion Awareness

by Matt Klassen on February 4, 2013

It seems appropriate that given the fact the Super Bowl was held yesterday a blog traditionally dedicated to telecom and technology news blurs the normally sharply demarcated content lines and presents a football related story. But this isn’t just a story about how technology has changed the game of football; it’s a story about how technology is tackling a key issue that plagues the entirety of modern sport: concussions.

While there’s no question that concussion awareness has risen exponentially over the past several years, the reality is that brain injuries are still occurring and diagnosing both the immediate and long term effects of continued blows to the head is still extremely difficult The result is a sport culture where most concussions continue to go undetected, often resulting in greater trauma to the brain.

In an effort to remedy the difficulty in recognizing concussions, Impakt Protective, a company created to shed light on the concussion epidemic, has released an innovative and useful little gadget called the Shockbox, a sensor placed in the helmet of a football designed solely to let coaches “know when a hit is too hard.”

While the focus this weekend is solely on the game of football, such a concussion detection system is really sport agnostic, able to be used in any game where helmets are worn and concussions are a pervasive and persistent threat.

Priced at $149, the latest iteration of the Shockbox looks like the rubber strap of a wristwatch, a thin flexible device that is able to be fitted seamlessly into a helmet. The device itself consists on a Bluetooth transmitter, a micro USB, and a rechargeable battery, and is designed to measure the force players take during the game.

Should a player receive a significant jolt to the head, one that current concussion standards dictate requires medical intervention, the sensor will notify an app on a chosen mobile device, altering the coaching and/or medical staff that concussion tests are warranted. As the company’s ad shows, when a player is hit the sensor sends a color-coded alert to your mobile device via Bluetooth, orange indicating a hit over 50 G, and red indicating a devastating hit over 90 G. The company has also released a free app for Android, iOS, and even Blackberry, that interprets the raw data.

Now only will such technology help coaches know when to be proactive about possible concussions, it’ll allow medical staff to know when medical intervention is immediately required, ideally assisting in the recovery and rehabilitation process.

Truth be told, there are few product pieces that I consider worth writing these days, but as the Super Bowl reminded me yesterday, there’s a price we all pay to play sport, but it shouldn’t be a price that plagues us for the rest of our lives. By having products like Impakt Protective’s Shockbox, the hope is that not only will concussion awareness increase, but appropriate responses that allow players to fully recover from brain injuries will also increase, as clearly brain injuries in sports is not something that is going away anytime soon.

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