Concussions, aka the most minor of traumatic brain injuries, are scary things. Prevalent in many full-contact sports, they have fortunately been the subject of increasing mainstream attention in recent years, including the aptly named movie 2015 Concussion.
Alberto Garcia, a student at Texas Tech, is among the technologists hoping Find a solution, yet. He spent several years working on an intelligent helmet and shoulder pad system, with an integrated Arduino microcontroller, designed to help reduce traumatic injuries among football players.
“It has stabilizers around the head and neck that are controlled with the microcontroller,” he said. “It has four sensors around the helmet and shoulder pads, as well as an accelerometer inside the helmet, which reads the change in force and speed. If a player feels an impact, the stabilizers activate within a few minutes. microseconds to reduce the whiplash effect on the neck.Therefore, you can not only reduce concussions, but also reduce the risk of a player sustaining spinal cord or neck injuries.
Garcia said he was inspired after reading an article describing how animals such as woodpeckers and rams are capable of sustaining the kind of head impacts that would prove dangerous in a human – without any apparent adverse effect. They have stabilizers built into their necks, which help prevent the type of whiplash that is so dangerous for people like football players. “It was kind of a cue from nature, which helped me get really interested,” Garcia continued.
Having started working on his smart helmet after suffering a concussion while playing football in his sophomore year in high school, Garcia is now deciding whether to license its creation or market it himself through a startup. At only 19, he certainly has plenty of time to decide.
“I don’t think American football will ever go away, but we need to create a better solution to protect our football players,” he said. “And not just football players either, but also people who do other hard and physical activities.”