Stanford University. The time that at impact occurs when two
football players take a blow to the head is less than tenths of a second.
Here at Stanford, we’re working as a multi-disciplinary team in order to
understand what causes a concussion, what causes these brain injuries.
By doing a study, we’re really looking at, for the first time, what happens to the
head and the neck when someone runs into somebody else.
It’s using high-speed, high-def super slow-mo cameras and watching the football
players collide. We have a number of markers on the
player’s helmets and we can track them over time from each camera view during a
collision. So, you can see, as the players are
approaching each other, we get an estimate of what the initial velocity is just
before the moment of impact. What we’re looking at is a case of math
guards that they’re using with the football team this year.
On one side of it, we have accelerometers and gyrometers which measure linear and
rotational acceleration that occurs in the head and neck.
On the other side, we have a battery which powers the mouth guard.
When we get the mouth guard back from the athlete, we attach it to the rear.
We start pulling the information off. And as you can see, there’s a tremendous
amount of information that comes just off of one mouth guard.
The idea is, that as our athletes wear them over a season, we can get an
understanding of number of blows, types of blows that they’re encountering.
Out in the field, we try to get as much data as we can on the motions and forces
associated with head blows, and then we try to build laboratory models so that we
can study this stuff in the laboratory. What we’ve learned so far is that the
types of hit setter occurring can come from head to head impacts in football but
they can come from shoulder to chest impacts which can accelerate the head.
We’ve learned that when athletes land on the ground, the heads are also
accelerated. So, these previous types of head
accelerations that maybe weren’t counted as hits, maybe they should be counted.
Oh, no. Oh, no.
Football is a starting point. We’re also currently testing accelerometer
devices on other sports at Stanford including soccer and field hockey.
If you really understand carefully what the mechanism of the concussion is, that
is where the preventative part comes in, and then we can start zeroing in and
prototyping technologies that may reduce the likelihood of sustaining injury in the
first place. If we can solve some of these problems and
answer some of the questions that are still unanswered today, we can make sports
participation safer for everybody. For more, please visit us at stanford.edu.