In the ESPN documentary, League of Denial: The NFL’s Concussion Crisis, viewers get a firsthand look into professional football’s handling of concussion-related brain damage. Football fans are worried that the game they love may slip away due to the number of players suffering from residual concussive damage. Researchers at Reebok and the electronic company, MC10, have developed a head impact indictor called Checklight that could revolutionize the way concussions are treated.
“At Reebok, we are dedicated to helping people be fit for life, no matter which sport or activity they participate in,” Reebok’s Paul Litchfield said in a statement. “The more we learn about head injuries, the more we understand the long term ramifications and we want to do our part to help ensure people can participate, compete and enjoy life. There is still much to be learned in this area, but we believe technology can play a significant role in improving the athletic experience.”
Although the NFL has mandated concussion testing with any player that takes a big hit, information is never considered accurate because the player could be lying or incapable of telling the medical staff what’s wrong. Fitted with LED sensors, green, yellow, and red lights reveal how many head shots from which the player suffers as well as the severity of each hit.
With its skull cap design, Checklight fits easily on top of a player’s head and can be worn with or without a helmet. The G-force of the hit is measured with an accelerometer, providing consistent and reliable impact data, The Post Game reports.
“In the heat of a game, you might not respond to a hit if you’re in the zone and the crowd is cheering,” explained spokeswoman for MC10, Elyse Kabinoff. “But now with the light coming on, it gives you the opportunity to say you’re experiencing symptoms, or at least signals to others that you need to get checked.”
According to the University of Pittsburgh’s Brain Trauma Research Center, over 300,000 sports-related concussions are reported around the United States each year. The chances of sustaining a concussion while participating in a contact sport is estimated at 19 percent per year of play. Thirty-four percent of college football players have suffered at least one concussion and 20 percent have experienced more than two.
Checklight is available to coaches and players at all levels for $149.99 and comes in different sizes to fit each player’s proportions. It’s proving to be an effective training tool in football as well as hockey.