Sports headgear designed to help detect concussions - News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

Sports headgear designed to alert players to potential concussions

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YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio - Concussions are responsible for sidelining athletes in just about every sport, with as many as three million sports-related concussions diagnosed each year.  Yet, several studies suggest just as many concussions go unreported or undetected.

Reducing concussions in sports has become a public health priority that's recently prompted several companies to develop products to help tackle the problem.  Since learning of the significant number of undiagnosed concussions at a conference four years, Reebok's advanced concepts director, Bob Rich, has led the internationally-known company on a journey.  A journey, that with the help of tech-company MC10, has produced a skullcap, which acts as an impact indicator, known as CHECKLIGHT.

"We wanted this device to serve as kind of an extra set of eyes for the coaches, teammates, parents, athletic trainers, etc.," said Reebok's advance concepts director Bob Rich.

Before launching the product in July, Reebok analyzed medical research to gain a better understanding of concussions.  Since researchers have yet to identify thresholds that always result in concussions, Reebok developed its own scale, which encompasses the range of impacts seen in sports, selecting yellow to indicate a moderate hit and red to indicate a more severe hit.

"The lights really have nothing to do with injury.  The lights are just a way of alerting people that the person has just sustained a significant impact and maybe they should be removed from play as soon as possible so they can be checked out and evaluated," said Rich.

The small processor, which measures both direct and rotational acceleration, also can tally the number of hits sustained by an athlete.  While CHECKLIGHT is not intended to diagnose, prevent or treat concussions, Rich believes it has the potential to reshape the culture.  Reebok tested the product this fall on two football teams in Massachusetts.

"It has been estimated that over 90% of high school football players will not admit when they receive a concussion or even a hard hit where they show symptoms of a concussion.  So, our goal, one of the goals of this project is to make this kind of more of an objective assessment and take that out of the kids' hands, that decision out of the kids hands," said Rich.

The product costs $150.00.  Reebok has headband version in development.  On Tuesday, Reebok announced that it has been named an International CES Innovations 2014 Design and Engineering Awards Honoree for the Reebok CHECKLIGHT.

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