New mouth guards could help detect football concussions

New mouth guards could help detect football concussions

Mouth guards have helped football players protect their teeth and mouths for years. Now, they may also be able to help detect concussions. A company developed a mouth guard that can sense as well as protect. The guard has sensors that monitor head movement and can alert coaches when a player has been hit hard enough to suffer a concussion.

The technology comes as awareness grows of the dangers of brain injuries from sports. Years ago, coaches did not acknowledge that harm can come from concussions caused by blows to the head in football and other sports. In recent years, evidence that repeated concussions can cause permanent brain damage has grown. The National Football League is being sued by thousands of former players and family members over the long-term effects of concussions, including chronic traumatic encephalopathy.

The new mouth guards will not cure or diagnose concussions, but they can give coaches, medical professionals and others valuable information that could lead to earlier detection and intervention for concussions. The part of the mouth guard that sticks between the lips has an accelerometer and a gyroscope to measure head movement in all directions.

The mouth guard sends data wirelessly to a receiver on the sidelines. Athletic trainers and coaches can then read the force of the impacts that placers receive. The data can result in better decisions about players' ability to play.

It was recently tested on a high school team, and a college football team will use it this fall. The mouth guards could be commercially available in 2014.

Source: Times Herald-Record, "Middies help test high-tech concussion monitor," William Montgomery, June 8, 2013


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