According to UPMC Sports Medicine, people involved in sports and recreation suffer 1.7 to 3 million concussions every year in the U.S. and half of them go unreported and undetected. (For those who may be interested, about 10% to 20% of these are football-related.) We face a number of problems with sports-related concussions. First, it can be difficult to assess the magnitude of a head impact after the fact. And even if you know the forces involved, we don’t yet know “how much is too much,” including the cumulative effects of smaller impacts. One way to gather the needed data is to use a smart mouth guard that records and reports head impacts. We’ve covered several different designs over the years.
At CES 2019, we saw a new model from Sisu, which makes standard mouth guards to prevent dental injuries. Their new SisuSense mouth guard adds electronics to create a wireless device to report head impacts. It includes three accelerometers that detect linear impacts to the head. (It does not measure rotational forces from impacts.) The data is transmitted using low-power Bluetooth to an app on a smartphone or tablet.
The mouthguard includes a small battery so you don’t need to recharge it. The battery is designed to last up to six months, which is plenty to get through most sports seasons. The mouth guard conserves power by only turning on when it detects heat from the wearer’s mouth. The system is not diagnostic for injuries, but instead reports impacts. It classifies impacts of more than 15 g as minor impacts, and hits of more than 45 g as major impacts.
More data is certainly the key to a better understanding of head impacts and concussions, both at the individual level and for athletic activities in general. The SisuSense can play a part in gathering and reporting this important data.