Preventing Football Head Injuries

It’s increasingly obvious that powers-that-be in football at all levels have to make some changes to protect players from head trauma.

MEMS-based accelerometers are obviously super cheap now; why aren’t these in every football helmet made, along with necessary processing and memory to cache results both instantaneous and cumulative. And with results available to a trainer on the sidelines via wireless or some other means.

And if a player’s helmet records a certain level of instantaneous or cumulative impact, then that player is out of the game or practice until evaluated by a doctor.

Additionally this data is tracked over a player’s lifetime and if certain cumulative levels are reached, then the player is pulled for medical evaluation.

This is not some crazy new idea. VT trialed a system in 2007 based on Simbex technology. Riddell had a helmet design in 2007 with some of this. At that time the cost was quoted as $1k per helmet but with Wii controllers retailing at $20-40 MSRP, there is no reason why a lower cost system can’t be devised. Perhaps it won’t have the same level of accuracy and responsiveness as the $1K system but there must be a reasonable low cost version 1.0 compromise.

The game has to change. Measurement is a start. Rule and equipment changes must follow.

Every hour the NCAA spends chasing after athlete eligibility issues instead of chasing after helmet safety issues is an hour misspent, almost criminally so. Yes eligibility issues are important and the NCAA has to address the economics of college football, but the health of the players involved is much more important.