Crash-testing concussion sensors

The goal is for the sensor to provide more information to coaches and doctors.

How head-impact sensors might one day help athletes, coaches and doctors identify more dangerous hits that could lead to concussions. Michigan Engineering researchers are helping to test a new high-profile device.

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In an effort to improve understanding of how the head and neck respond to hits that athletes might experience, Michigan engineers and doctors are testing two high-profile head impact sensors. They’ve outfitted a crash test dummy with both Riddell’s helmet-based Head Impact Telemetry System (HITS) and X2 Biosystems’ newer X Patch, designed to be worn right on the skin behind the ear. They’re comparing the data of these sensors in order to pave the way for more robust research with the new system, which could provide a clearer picture of how the head moves through space.

In recent years, the sports, science and medical communities have come to understand the devastating long-term effects that repeated concussions and even weaker blows to the head can have on athletes’ brains. Neither sensor can detect concussions directly, but they could provide more information to coaches and doctors.

About the Professors: James Ashton-Miller is a research professor in the departments of Biomedical Engineering and Mechanical Engineering at the University of Michigan College of Engineering. He also holds appointments in the U-M School of Kinesiology and the Institute of Gerontology and serves as Associate Vice President for Research Policy and Compliance in the U-M Office of the Vice President for Research. His research interests include mobility impairments in the elderly; trips, slips, and falls; elderly decision-making and risk-taking in physical tasks; birth related injury; female stress urinary incontinence; spine biomechanics; athletic injuries; and occupant vehicular safety.

James Eckner, M.D., is a clinician and assistant professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation in the U-M Medical School. His research interests include musculoskeletal and neurological rehabilitation; electrodiagnostic medicine, and traumatic brain injury in athletes.