This post is a continuation of the ongoing in the wild review of the Vector Mouthguard System. You can see the previous posts about what I have experienced to this point by clicking on the hot links. As always if you have questions please comment, email or tweet I will do my best to answer.
The system has been on site and in the hands of the kids and I for the past nine days; the good is far outweighing the bad at this point. However, there is plenty of things that I have yet to figure out or apply, rather figured out how to apply. Tomorrow is the first game action, a point in this trial that I am both scared and excited about for the Vector Mouthguards. Time for the bright lights.
I am not scared or apprehensive about the overall performance of the data that I have been seeing thus far. One thing that I can firmly state at this point is that the perceived accuracy and consistency of impacts below 50g is all that I hoped and more. As the practices have progressed and I have reviewed the hitting drills by film, the hits of the interior lineman and linebackers seem to show on almost every play where there is full effort. This would match up with my line of thinking about football (as a reminder I have my system set up to report impacts of 10g or greater), this is a collision sport. I guess at this point I wonder if I am collecting a lot of “noise” in the system because the amount of hits it is recording. I do want to see the overall number of hits collected by the kids but if the 10-20g range of linear impacts are doing nothing other than that, it makes me think. On the other side I do want to have that data in case a kid were to be injured and it was a very low threshold.
The not so awesome thing at this time is the frequency of the anomalies I have seen. The last number I remember seeing for total hits that the system had captured was nearly 2,000 (4o players for 8 days of practice, about 6/player/day) and that number seems about right to me. But, the real issue is of that nearly 2,000 data set there are 12 hits that have exceeded 80g on the monitor and none of them “looked” like an 80g hit on film, in fact some there was no contact. Granted this can happen with technology, some part of an algorithm that didn’t weed out this report. Upon review I was able to identify four of these instances: one was previously mentioned with a player yelling (I have since reboiled the mouthguard and have not seen from that sensor), one was a player whipping out his mouthguard and kicking it while it still had some spit on it, and the other two were the cause of a coach tapping – rather slapping – the mouthguard on the helmet after taking it out of a players mouth to mess with me. In regards to the last two instances the good thing is that this only happens one time because the mouthgurad deactivates when the slobber is off.
Sure 12 out of 2,000 is 0.6%, I want to see 0.0% and I am sure the makers of this want to as well. Lets be honest here, a quick look at the player and a question or two to scan for an injury is not that big of a deal so perhaps this can be the last to get fixed, perfectly. A side note to this issue: today’s practice was a “walk through” with no contact and there was not a single hit recorded, as expected.
The other issue that I have been struggling with is the kids that slobber insistently. It does not effect the reporting that I can notice, but it does have an issue on charging the mouth piece. Unless I gather them up and clean them myself they don’t get and hold a charge very long. This would be an issue in a longer game than 3 hours. One aspect that I wanted to make sure this system provided was as little maintenance on my part as possible. Any athletic trainer would tell you we already have a lot to do as is, so we are working on this part with the kids. Admittedly, I am trying to find out any and all issues that may arise; remember that I was and currently skeptical of how this will help me, as an athletic trainer.
What I am unsure about is how will I be using this in the game. Will I be compelled to check this at every opportunity? Will I only check at half time? Will I completely forget about this and not use at all? I simply just don’t know until the game gets going. I can promise you I won’t be tethered to it as I have the notification to my phone as needed.
I can imagine a scenario when a player is removed with possible issues as noticed by me, a coach or an official and after making sure he is stable and sufficient tests have been done I may look at the event in the computer to see what happened per the mouthguard. I also foresee an instance where a hit comes up and I will look at that player harder for any noticeable signs if they happen to be on the field and use this as an extra “eye in the sky” for alerting me of a player that may be in trouble. I am planning on checking the info at halftime and end of game then interviewing kids how they are doing based upon both number of hits and big hits.
With all the hype and the game arriving these are my biggest issues both positive and negative. I fully expect to see the level of the hits being recorded higher and more frequent as the players get the chance to actually play someone other than themselves. Plus the game is an uncontrolled situation so there will be instances where this system could be important.
Away from the field there have been some other things; easily solved and worked on by the tech support but none-the-less frustrating. I am completely satisfied with the amount of time they have worked with me and been receptive to all my ideas/concerns. All of these issues are, perhaps, a quality control check that could be easily put into place.
Going forward I am excited about some new reports that I can generate as well as the ability for the system to check on the status of the chargers (when in range). One thing is for sure, the i1biometrics staff is committed to getting this right – check that – perfect.
There has been nothing to this point that would sway me from suggesting the Vector Mouthguard. That being said, the first game is tomorrow and the season is long. As an athletic trainer this has not impeded my job and it has made my job slightly better, mainly because of the education. Time will tell and it will really tell if we get a concussion to see what this system delivers and how it will be used by me.
Current rating: 4.25 tape rolls out of 5.
Next update will be when there is more to report that would be significant for those looking to get this system.