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Helmet Sensors: A Useful Tool Against Concussions?

In the fight against traumatic brain injuries, technology is a major piece of the puzzle. Medical professionals work with engineers and designers to create equipment that better protects and treats these potentially fatal injuries. One of the latest technologies seems like a sure bet, but its implementation is causing concern for one of the largest sporting organizations in the world.

Sporting goods manufacturer Riddell introduced InSite in 2013. The sensors are placed inside of helmets and provide coaches with valuable information about blows sustained by players.

According to an article in Newsweek, the technology does the following:

***The level of force to the head when players are tackled
***Profiles for each field position
***Calibration of the hit to the athlete’s age

Riddell reportedly hopes to share the information with a research company to examine “how impacts affect brain biomarkers and brain chemistry… and understand how types of impacts might be able to be used to quantify whether a player has been concussed.”

The NFL’s Response

The New York Times is reporting that the National Football League Player’s Association (NFLPA) dedicated a significant amount of time to the discussion and consideration of the helmet sensors. These meetings reportedly centered on the benefits of the helmets, along with potential liability issues that may ensue. According to the article, the NFLPA is concerned about the dissemination of gathered information and what it may be used for once collected.

One concern is for the medical privacy of players. If the information is shared with other organizations, the NFLPA wants to ensure that Riddell is adhering to each player’s privacy rights. HIPAA is the federal law that protects individuals from the illegal sharing of medical information. The Association wants practices in place that will adequately cover all HIPAA regulations.

Other concerns are reportedly in relation to the NFL and what officials may do with the information gathered from the helmets. According to the report, NFLPA leaders are concerned that the data may help teams prematurely end the careers of players who are found to be susceptible to head injuries.

Another reported player worry is that the league will manipulate the information for its own interests. The NFL is currently embroiled in an expensive lawsuit regarding player concussions. Interested parties believe that the organization may use the collected data to limit its liability in ongoing lawsuits.

The sensor system is reportedly used on the non-professional level. As stated in the article, several high school and colleges are currently utilizing the helmets in an effort to better protect players.

The continuous research and conversation about concussions demonstrates the seriousness and potential dangers of brain injuries. When a victim suffers a traumatic brain injury due to the actions or carelessness of another, the result can prove devastating.