By David Sigel, Chief Marketing Officer of Prevent Biometrics
The game of football is obviously under pressure due to concerns around head impacts and their effect on player health. It’s an emotional and contentious issue at every level of the game, and all parties to the debate eagerly dispense “facts” to support their case.
Ironically, the one set of facts missing when it comes to head health are the true head impact forces athletes are experiencing.
Prevent Biometrics is a spin-off of the world renown Cleveland Clinic. Between us, we’ve been working for nearly 10 years to measure head impacts on the field, accurately, precisely and in real-time. The science needed to measure three-dimensional head kinematics is highly complex, starting with the fundamental requirement that impact sensors are attached to the skull. Embedding sensors in a mouthguard has been found to be the only viable solution, because the upper arch of teeth is anatomically part of the skull.
Engineering and manufacturing a wearable device with 100+ built-in electrical components, that fits comfortably and can be boiled and fit like a normal mouthguard, is the next challenge. Then you need a system to sanitize, charge and store the mouthguard, and receive all of its head impact data both in-game and through an analytics portal. The product needs to be independently validated. In our case at Prevent, we’re able to measure head impact forces with measurement accuracy within +/- 5%, an exceptional level of precision.
Football teams at all levels will benefit immeasurably from the ability to deeply understand head impacts across the team and organization.
- The introduction of accurate, real-time head impact data helps shift teams’ head health practices from observationally-based and subjective to data-driven and objective. Head impacts occur in about 20 milliseconds, or 1/10th an eye blink. Understandably, that’s hard for an athletic trainer or coach to see, especially with 22 players on the field. Reliable data through the Prevent app greatly supplements the process of identifying athletes for sideline evaluation.
- Coaches can use head impact monitoring to identify athletes experiencing high magnitude head impacts or high impact load. Oftentimes, certain athletes consistently put themselves at risk due to poor technique and that becomes visible through the data, especially when paired with film. The Prevent system helps coaches teach effective technique and better structure contact and live practice periods to manage head impact exposure.
- Organizations and teams that adopt head impact monitoring show that they are proactive about head health, and are leaders in improving safety, performance and growing the game of football. Teams can see the actual head impact exposure for players, and validate their safety practices with facts. This commitment reflects positively with players, recruits, parents and the team’s community.
Advances in technology have delivered breakthroughs across athletic performance and training and it’s hard to imagine that analytics won’t become an even more important part of football going forward. Head impact monitoring holds transformational safety potential with no competitive tradeoff. We are proud to be introducing Prevent’s technology this year, and see it improving the game we all love.