Aug
09
2007

Hitting back on concussions: New football helmet will alert coaches to hard hits

Head sensors: The interior of this Riddell football helmet shows the arrangment of sensors around the top of the head that can detect potential concussion-causing hits. (Photo courtesy of Riddell)
Head sensors: The interior of this Riddell football helmet shows the arrangment of sensors around the top of the head that can detect potential concussion-causing hits. (Photo courtesy of Riddell)
It’s been a very long time since you’ve seen the Golden Gophers mentioned in a top 10 list for college football.

But today’s Star Tribune reports that the University of Minnesota will be one of ten schools in the country using a new sensor system in players’ helmets to detect potential concussion-causing hits. Those sensors send information after every play back to the sideline where a coach or trainer can monitor how the players are doing.

More specifically, each helmet is equipped with six sensors around the crown of the helmet. Those sensors feel the G-forces of hits that the player sustains to the head on any given play. If the hit is hard enough to cause a concussion, an alert is sent to a transmitter on the back of the helmet, which then sends a message to the sideline computer.

A total of 70 Gopher players will be outfitted with the helmets this season and the university is paying about $80,000 for the technology. Riddell is the only helmet maker that makes helmets with the technology, so returning players have the option of continuing with their old, non-equipped helmets, if they prefer.

Gold domes: Amir Pennix rushes through a hole in the Iowa line in a game last year.
Gold domes: Amir Pennix rushes through a hole in the Iowa line in a game last year.
Beyond monitoring individual hits during the game, the computer program used to run the system will also keep track of the number of hard head hits players receive over the course of the season. It’s more data that coaches and trainers can use to prevent over-exposure of players to hard hits.

Medical people are quick to point out that the new technology won’t prevent concussions. But it will make sideline personnel more aware of potential problems to check out with players. It’s estimated that 85 percent of concussions suffered by football players are not detected.

Former Gopher quarterback Bryan Cupito suffered two concussions during his career that medical personnel discovered on the spot. But he probably had another one in a game against Penn State last year, that they didn’t catch, and he stayed in the game to play more football.

Concussions and football are a growing issue. The National Football League recently held a summit to find ways to diminish the cumulative impact they have of players. Some players who have suffered too many concussions have had to retire early.

While this new technology will be great for Gopher players, it is still only chipping away at the top of the ice burg of sports-related head injuries. There are 300,000 sports concussions suffered each year and about 83 percent of those occur with high school athletes.





Your rating: None Average: 5 (128 votes)








Your rating: None Average: 5 (128 votes)




Your rating: None Average: 5 (128 votes)

Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I feel that the highschool level should emphasize safety. A player should not mortgage their future by playing a sport.The effects of a head injury may not be known until decades later. The rules should be enforced and the "no play" designation should be exercised.

posted on Thu, 08/09/2007 - 5:22pm
Mikinaak's picture
Mikinaak says:

I agree that they should emphasize safety with high schools. it would make the brain damage risks low, and high rates for going to college.(it was just a thought, nothing tested)

posted on Wed, 10/22/2008 - 3:25pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Does anybody know the company Riddell is working with to make this device.?

posted on Tue, 09/11/2007 - 6:37am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Company is Simbex (www.simbex.com)

posted on Thu, 10/18/2007 - 7:27am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I believe they have started to work with Toyota.

posted on Mon, 11/22/2010 - 9:43pm
Casinos's picture
Casinos says:

Great idea. Brain damage cannot be reversed, so its very important to prevent it. If only they could use these for professional boxing :P

posted on Thu, 10/16/2008 - 6:10am
Alex W's picture
Alex W says:

I think that it is great that these people are doing this for the good of all athletes. Also, I believe that all football helmets that are made from here on out need to be equipped with this new technology. That way, at least they can somewhat slow down the process until a better and more suitable answer can be found.

posted on Mon, 10/20/2008 - 6:15pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

"I think that it is great that these people are doing this for the good of all athletes. Also, I believe that all football helmets that are made from here on out need to be equipped with this new technology. That way, at least they can somewhat slow down the process until a better and more suitable answer can be found."

Each helmet costs over $1,000.00, if every helmet was to be equiped with this technology a majority of high school programs would no longer exist.

posted on Mon, 11/02/2009 - 3:07pm
Mikinaak's picture
Mikinaak says:

I never heard of this till now, it looks safe enough to with stand hard tackles in football. It is amazing!

posted on Wed, 10/22/2008 - 3:23pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

i love this design....its fabolous....

posted on Tue, 11/25/2008 - 4:06pm
Jason's picture
Jason says:

wow, football helmets have really come along ways. It's good to see that as hard as the players are hitting these days because they get faster and stronger that precautions are being made to keep them as safe as possible.

posted on Mon, 09/14/2009 - 10:08am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

too bad it doesnt Prevent the concussions. This is awful. People are looking for prevention in concussions, not to see if they were concussed because of the awful design of the Riddell hemlet

posted on Wed, 05/19/2010 - 8:29am
JGordon's picture
JGordon says:

You know, I wonder if football helmets really could prevent concussions without a complete redesign. (And by that, I mean redesign to the point where they wouldn't be recognizable as football helmets, or easy to play a game in.)

I got a pretty serious concussion early this spring from crashing my bicycle. I was wearing a helmet, but I was still lost to the world for about 12 hours (I was unconscious for only part of that time, and amnesic for the rest.) My bike helmet, I realized later, wasn't even cracked. When I looked into it, I found out that concussions are only sometimes caused by a direct impact to the head (like from two helmet-clad heads smashing into each other), and the rest of the time they come from the brain just accelerating inside the skull (like if you were running fast, and someone hit you in the chest while running in the opposite direction, causing your head to whip forward.)

I'm guessing that football helmets are engineered fairly well to limit impact concussions, but without limiting movement of the head (or even the whole body, I suppose), there's not a lot they can do to stop concussions due to acceleration.

And knowing whether or not you've been concussed is actually really important. One concussion is bad, but multiple subsequent concussions are really bad. Before the ambulance came, I was ready to try to bike home, even covered in blood and not remembering what had happened to me (that's what they told me, at least). If a football player takes a hard hit and is a little dazed, he might be fine, or he might have a concussion, because you don't necessarily have to lose consciousness to have a concussion. Knowing exactly how hard he was hit, or what the g-forces acting on his head were, would be helpful in determining if it's likely that he got a concussion. Knowing when to stop playing could prevent serious brain damage, or even save an athlete's life.

So there. The Riddell helmet doesn't sound like a bad idea to me.

posted on Wed, 05/19/2010 - 11:04am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

cool! never new that!!! 9;

posted on Wed, 05/19/2010 - 11:36am
regg's picture
regg says:

That's amazing! In this kind of game an extra safety measure is always welcomed. I doubt those helmets are very practical thought, they could break because of the impact and fail to sent the right message to the computer. Also I am concerned about how heavy they are compared to normal helmets. Also since I always buy football game tickets when I know the game will be spectacular, I wonder if players are more confident with these helmets in field and more prone to offering spectacle.

posted on Mon, 07/12/2010 - 8:00am
smoots's picture
smoots says:

why in the world isn't there a softer outer coating on these things. No matter what you do inside the helmet to redirect or lessen the impact, it' already there. Softening the outside would stop a significant amount of force from ever being part of the equation.

posted on Wed, 11/17/2010 - 7:44pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Great idea, but too expensive.

posted on Mon, 12/06/2010 - 3:11pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

this would help

posted on Wed, 01/26/2011 - 2:05pm
brain waves technology's picture

I am quite sure I will learn plenty of new stuff right here! I found out that concussions are only sometimes caused by a direct impact to the head like from two helmet-clad heads smashing into each other, and the rest of the time they come from the brain just accelerating inside the skull like if you were running fast, and someone hit you in the chest while running in the opposite direction, causing your head to whip forward. I like the helpful information you provide in your articles. Thanks for sharing…
brain waves technology

posted on Tue, 05/03/2011 - 6:13am
denis_smith's picture
denis_smith says:

The design is awesome!

posted on Thu, 09/11/2014 - 3:32am

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