Every year, sports-related head injuries and concussions affect several hundred thousand athletes – both professional and amateur. What’s worrying is that despite advances in protective gear technology, the numbers are only increasing. According to the Centre for Disease Control, emergency room visits relating to sports-related injuries involving concussions among children and adolescents have increased by 60% in the last decade. Surprisingly though, surveys indicate that a significant number of student athletes – 16% or more – return to a game right after sustaining a head injury.
To try and combat this worrying trend, a smart mouthguard has been devised. Called Vector, it looks and feels just like a normal mouthguard, except for one thing – it is fitted with advanced technology which can wirelessly transmit information from the mouthpiece to a computer program that can run on a tablet or smartphone.
The Vector mouthguard is attached to the upper jaw. It accurately measures skull movement and the acceleration of the brain during the impact and transmits an alert each time a player is hit, informing the coach of his/her name, the G-force and the location of the injury.
In addition, the coaches also receive a 3D version of the player’s head with the impact details. This allows them to closely screen the athletes that are sustaining the most hits during a game or a camp practice. Additionally, the data gathered are also useful in the continuing studies on enhancing the safety of the sport.