Can a Mouthguard Help Identify Concussions on the Field?
Given the regular occurrence of stories about athletes attempting, and often succeeding, at hiding concussions so they can get back onto the field, it has become clear that we need objective ways to identify players who need to be assessed for brain injuries.
While there are already some figures on the sidelines tasked with sighting impacts that seem likely to cause brain injuries, there is currently no scientific or objective way to identify players and examine them for concussions – especially if the athletes aren’t reporting any problems.
Force Impact Technologies believe they have a solution for this problem in the form of FITGuard, a sensory equipped mouthguard which is capable of assessing the level of risk for brain injury after impacts.
After a hit, an LED turns blue to indicate a medium-degree impact and red to alert the player and staff that the athlete has a 50 percent chance of developing a concussion.
The LED displays are intended to be displayed in easy-to-see locations, where parents, coaches, and players would all be able to see if the system detects a significant impact.
The device also sends data following an impact to an app that gives more information about the impact.
“[The FITGuard] will allow parents, coaches, and leagues to follow their normal concussion protocol while having some quantitative data to support their conclusion,” co-developer Anthony Gonzales said in the promotional video for the device.”We want to provide them with the tools to make informed decisions about the safety of athletes and reduce the traumatic effects of brain injury.”
It is unfortunately common for players to hide being injured, but non-life threatening concussions can have long lasting consequences. This is even more true if the athlete is allowed to suffer another brain injury in a short span of time.
The FITGuard is currently undergoing testing, but it is already available for a pre-order at a price of $50 and plans to start shipping in late summer. The question is whether it will be able to follow through in its promise.