Concussion sensors might be the right safety solution for NFL players
The nation’s favorite and most popular sport, football, has always been a hot topic among orthopedic doctors. Like any other high-contact sport, football has risks of serious knee, shoulder, spine and head injuries. The level of risk is even higher in the NFL.
So, what can be done for the safety of NFL players?
It is interesting that with so many safety aspects that need to be covered, more than half of NFL players worry about ending their career due to a knee or shoulder injury. But, are knee and shoulder injuries more important and more complicated than head injuries, traumas and concussions?
Dr. Armin Tehrany, a New York orthopedic surgeon and founder of Manhattan Orthopedic Care disagrees with NFL players. Concussions are a life-threatening problem for everyone, especially for all professional NFL players.
“While knee and shoulder injuries can be career-ending in the NFL, orthopedic surgeons can perform surgeries that can get most players back into the game. Multiple concussions in the NFL can not only be career ending, but affect a player’s entire future… and in some cases it can be life-ending.”, Dr. Tehrany said.
Preventing concussions in NFL players with concussion sensors
Even though players are worried about getting their knees and shoulders injured, concussions are the primary concern for the NFL.
According to USA Today, the NFL is already taking huge steps forward in providing protection from concussions. It is reported that by 2015 all NFL teams might start using head impact concussion sensors.
USA Today reports that Kevin Guskiewicz, a University of North Carolina researcher and a member of league and union safety committees, shared the information that “two companies are “fine-tuning” their head accelerometer devices based on researchers’ feedback in anticipation of wider deployment this fall, with expansion to all 32 teams possible as soon as 2015.”
With the help of these concussion sensors the medical staff can study the possibilities of a concussion, which often happens undetected in a competitive environment, just like a football game.
At the moment the head impact sensors are still being tested by two teams who are participating in a pilot program. The head accelerometers don’t have the ability diagnose concussions. According to Guskiewicz’s statement for USA Today “they assess frequency, location and magnitude of impact, providing more information for researchers and teaching tools for coaches, who can match video to data and encourage high-risk players to change the way they play.”
As soon as the program goes live, all players that are part of it, will be able to sign forms allowing the data collected from the NFL concussion sensors to be shared with a team of doctors, who may even have a real-time data available that will warn them if a player should be taken out of the field due to even the smallest head injury.
The value of the data gathered from the concussion sensors, will allow coaches and doctors to learn how to modify the overall behavior and playing style of the player, which ultimately will lead to his protection.
For Dr. Armin Tehrany this is something that simply must be done for the NFL player’s safety. He applauds the initiative to start using head impact sensors in NFL. According to him, brain injuries can be more damaging to the players than any shoulder injuries or knee injuries, mainly because players often try to continue playing, hiding the concussion or considering it as a minor pain they can shake off during the game. This type of behavior is extremely dangerous, it can lead to more serious brain injuries.
To this day there are no solutions that can help the medical staff recognize the concussion and pull the player off. The staff can’t perform an MRI scan during the game, but with the head impact sensors they might have a slight insight into the players’ safety.
“Concussions are a major topic for the NFL and any contact sport in general; and the league needs to work hard to give the medical staff an upper hand in keeping the players safe from serious brain injury. The concussion sensors are good news to hear, and depending on the technology they might help the medical staff asses the injury right away, or at least help them monitor the player more carefully. The sensors cannot come soon enough“, ends MOC’s specialist, Dr. Tehrany.
With the highest hope that 2015 will be the year of the concussions sensors, Dr. Tehrany salutes this project and urges all players to embrace the concussion sensors as they might be their greatest life protector on the field.