Technology In NFL


An interesting report from wired.com circulated last week that states the NFL may allow impact sensors in helmets, pads and mouth guards next year.  The wired.com piece fails to mention that this is not a new technology, and has already been used in both practice and research at the college and high school levels.  The most widely available technology is from Simbex and is featured in a commercially available system marketed exclusively by Riddell (HITS).

Which brings me to my point – many would assume that professional sports have the best and most advanced equipment available, but that is not exactly the case when the company is not the official supplier/sponsor or may somehow, someway affect the collective bargaining agreement (see any NFL or NHL helmet discussion).  While players are generally allowed to wear any helmet they wish, the current technology of accelerometers in helmets is only capable in Riddell brand equipment.  As for the other sensors in the pads and mouth, those do not have “exclusive” rights, as of yet.  This fact could “muddy” the water in data collection and interpretation.

3 thoughts on “Technology In NFL

  1. Mark Musolino January 19, 2011 / 17:55

    Good point @theconcussionblog. Also, let’s keep in mind that whether or not a technology is “new” is not as important as whether or not it solves a problem. My understanding is that there are concerns about the accuracy of helmet mounted systems, specifically that they measure impacts to the helmet, but not to the head (because of relative motion between head and helmet during an impact). Without a direct measure of head dynamics, though, what can you really say about the concussive potential of a given impact? Since we can’t completely answer that question, the helmet mounted system hasn’t yet solved the real problem. The hope is that instrumented mouthguards, earpieces, and chinstraps that will be available in the near future can help shed light on the situation.

    Just my $.02, submitted with respect and humility.

    Best,

    Mark

    • Dustin Fink January 19, 2011 / 18:13

      Thanks for the two cents… All comments are welcome… And I appreciate you taking time to view the site…

    • Dave Bertoni October 5, 2011 / 17:27

      Mark,

      I believe this system measures the acceleration of the cranium and not the impact to the helmet. It has been a few years since I have looked into the technology, but I believe the system and the technology have undergone extensive peer review and has been validated accurate to acceptable limits. I am not sure how many systems can make that claim.

      Dave

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