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The National Football League (NFL) abides by a regulated concussion protocol, which involves the presence of medical professionals to constantly monitor players’ symptoms throughout the game, however, the repercussions of repetitive concussions, such as chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE)2, remains a prevalent problem in this industry.
To further understand and diagnose athletes with concussions at the immediate moment in which the injury occurs, athletic equipment manufacturer, Riddell, has developed an in-helmet sensor known as Riddell Insite, to detect such traumatic injuries. Originally founded in 1922 by inventor John T. Riddell, who created the company by his initial interest to develop removable cleats, Riddell has been a leading manufacturer of protective and enhanced sports equipment.
The development of head impact sensors that are incorporated into athletic helmets is not a new concept, as several companies, including Riddell, have developed products that offer an additional set of eyes onto the players’ wellbeing during games and practices.
Shockbox, a technology company that aims at providing athletes with systems that offer both protective and performance advantages, offers several types of sensors that can be attached to helmets for sports such as hockey, football, lacrosse, and snow sports. The Shockbox helmet sensors will alert individuals, such as parents, coaches, and training professionals, of an impact that exceeds a previously determined impact threshold1.
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While useful in its design, the only thing connecting the Shockbox sensor to the helmet is a high bonding adhesive tap, which always has the potential to disconnect from the helmet or become damaged over time. By incorporating the sensor into the helmet itself, the Riddell Insite system offers a more intimate level of trauma detection as compared to such attachable products.
Comprised of three main parts including the player unit, the alert monitor, and the computer software to record the retrieved data, Riddell’s Insite system is designed to accommodate and monitor a partial or full team of athletes.
The player unit employs a five-point sensor pad that detects the impact of the blow to the head, rather than the impact that is caused to the helmet, as it lines the full interior of the helmet2. Appearing as a crown of sensors within the helmet, Riddell’s Insite system also contains a flexible panel that compresses following the event of an impact, which will not only record, but also reduce the force of the impact during a collision.
If the force of the impact exceeds a predetermined threshold, which is to each athlete’s position and skill level, an alert is transmitted to the handheld alert monitor that is used by the athletic trainer or coach to monitor athletes’ health during games and practices.
The alert monitor will then transfer this information to other important athletic personnel to ensure that proper attention is given to that athlete, while also keeping track of the full history of an athlete’s susceptibility to concussions and its possible deleterious neurological effects.
Through their technology known as HITSP, Riddell users are able to utilize this advanced head impact exposure metric by analyzing four important elements of the injury including its location, duration, linear and rotational acceleration.
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Player Management Software, available for both PC and Mac computers, accompanies the Insite technology to offer sideline staff the ability to access historical instances of a player’s overexposure to such injury, as well as a source of archiving all recorded injuries for future reference.
While there is an increased awareness of the reality of concussions, as well as the detrimental neurological effects that can be seen with such repetitive injuries occurring over the lifetime of a football player’s career, some concussions still go undiagnosed. Riddell provides a valuable insight into the players’ impact exposure during the games, which can therefore lead to better athletic performance, but more importantly offer protection to athletes around the world.
The University of Texas has already employed the innovative Riddell helmet technology to monitor players’ neurological health during practices and games, and the company is hopeful that all levels of football players will see the importance of such an application for their players’ benefit3.
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