High tech helmets
7 Healthcast: High tech helmets
Researchers at the University of North Carolina are turning the football field into the perfect lab to study the brain injury known as a concussion.
Their latest research questions the thinking that it's the hard hits that do the most damage to the brain.
"In many cases it is subtle impacts to helmet that are just as concerning," said senior researcher Dr. Kevin Guskiewicz.
Subtle impacts are picked up and recorded in real time by tiny sensors embedded in a player's helmet.
The data is transmitted to a sideline computer.
"As the players get hit, what it's telling us is how hard they are getting hit, the magnitude of that impact, the location of the impact and duration of the impact," said researcher Jason Mihalik.
Researchers found evidence that some of the biggest hits to the head often happen during practice.
The findings also suggest that hits to the top of the head may be more dangerous, even though symptoms might not be any different from other head hits.
"I think the take home message is there isn't one way to say that player got a concussion," Mihalik said.
One point that is clear, understanding concussion is a complex challenge that can't be answered in four quarters.
Along with the helmet data, the players in the study are also videotaped. A review of the video and data on a player who had suffered two concussions helped team coaches detect and correct the player's tackling technique, preventing him from suffering another head injury.
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