Recognizing the need for improved concussion prevention and management in youth sports several technology companies have developed new tools to help improve the safety of contact sports. These tools range from helmet sensors for measuring head impacts to sideline robots that are linked to physicians who can make critical concussion assessments at the moment of injury. The greatest need for these technologies are in youth contact sports, which generally lack medically trained sideline personnel. In the US there are about 3.5 million kids playing youth football. Recently proposed legislation in several communities, including NY city, will mandate the same medical care be provided to youth football as available at the high school, college and professional levels.
The major technologies being developed include neurocognitive testing, sensors, for recording the location, number and magnitude of head hits and systems to provide a virtual physician presence at all games and contact practices. ImPACT Technologies®, is a leader in the area of neuropsychological testing and is not focused on developing baseline testing for children as young as 5 years old. If a concussion were to occur the baseline test can be used to compare to a new test in order to assist in return to play decisions. Several head impact sensor system are currently being trialed at major universities across the US. They can detect the number, location and magnitude of head impacts and store the information for ongoing dosimetry-like purposes. Telemedicine system, which has been available for rural communities is being upgaraded to provide a virtual physician trained in concussion management to be available at any youth football game or practice in the country when needed for concussion evaluation and treatment recommendations.
All three of these technological innovations are being assessed individually and as a part of a unified program. A network of these new technologies will soon be available to provide a new safety model for youth participating in contact sports and in particular, football. This approach has the opportunity to be extremely cost effective and also more comprehensive since a history of prior hits to the head and concussions can in stored within the network and assessed as needed. I will update you in the near future as these technologies evolve.
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