Concussions and other traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) accounted for 6.5% of reported sports and recreation-related injuries in a nine-year longitudinal study published in 2011 by the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC). Among males ages 10-19, football was the most common activity associated with TBIs. Every knock to the head doesn’t cause a concussion, but severe blows or repeated hits in the same area increase the TBI risk. Wearable tech that detects head or helmet impact severity can help by alerting participants, parents, and coaches when a player is at risk. For example, I1 Biometrics developed a miniature wireless helmet impact sensor called Shockbox. The device counts and measures impact in G-forces and sends a smartphone alert when a head impact is too hard.

Riddell Inc. develops football player protection equipment. Riddell’s InSite is a three-component system used by youth, high school, and college football programs that alerts coaches to helmet impact severity. InSite’s components include smart helmets for players, handheld Head Impact Exposure (HIE) monitors for coaches, and a web-based data platform. When a helmet’s impact severity, number, and location exceed preset thresholds, the helmet sends alerts to the HIE monitors. During practice and games, impact and alert data collected by the monitors is transmitted to the web platform every five minutes to update individual player impact profiles. Over a 10-year period, Riddell’s InSite system collected data from more than five million impacts. The InSite Training Tool (ITT) is the latest addition to the InSite system. ITT uses big data analysis with the aggregate impact data to create individual instruction and practice plans based on player position, skill level, and impact profile.

The InSite system goal is to reduce head impacts during practice and games for smarter, safer play. Colgate University used ITT’s tool during the school’s spring 2018 football practice.