Tag Archives: ImPACT
Christine Brennan, veteran sports journalist of USA Today, saw a screening of Concussion last night and suggested that it will not spell the death knell for football.
“Some will see it and decide to never let their kids play football again,” she wrote. “Others will see it and rush home to watch as many bowl games and late-season NFL games as possible. The movie, which I watched Thursday at a screening at the Motion Picture Association of America theater in Washington, D.C., will be what you want it to be.”
Virginia Tech is leading a $3.3 million, multicenter, five-year study that will track head impact exposure in children — the largest and most comprehensive biomedical study of youth football players to date.
Funded by the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, researchers will track on-field head impacts and accelerations using sensors installed in hundreds of players’ helmets.
A new addition to the study will be mouth guards, which also will have sensors installed in them. Players at six schools in three states also will receive neuropsychological testing.
Leading the study is Stefan Duma, head of Virginia Tech’sDepartment of Biomedical Engineering and Mechanics, part of the College of Engineering.
Duma and his multi-university team will focus on six teams of 9- and 10-year-old players in three states, following each team during a five-year period, as well as the players themselves until they reach the age of 14.
“This is the largest coordinated youth study with the most advanced combination of instrumentation, clinical and neuropsychological testing,” said Duma, one of the earliest pioneers to study the biomechanics of football player head injuries and creator of a groundbreaking safety ratings system for football helmets and hockey helmets.
“Collecting this data during the next five years will allow for evidence-based decisions across a range of applications, including improved clinical detection techniques as well as a solid foundation for our helmet rating programs and offer ways potentially to improve youth football helmet design,” added Duma. “We will work with Pop Warner and other national governing bodies to develop improved practice strategies.”
Participants will be instrumented with two high-tech sensor systems, one located inside the helmet and the other in the front part of the player’s mouthpiece, each measuring all head impacts and rotations during all practices and games.
Data will be transmitted instantly to researchers near the sidelines, monitoring all impact levels. All practices and games will be videotaped to match sensor data with actual visuals of on-field impacts. Participants will undergo neurocognitive examinations off-field, involving computerized tests, balance scores of postural stability, and survey data.
“This study will provide important translational outcomes including an improved understanding of the rotational kinematics during football head impacts in the youth population,” said Steve Rowson, assistant professor of biomedical engineering at Virginia Tech, who has worked with Duma for the past 10 years. “This can lead to improved injury risk functions that could be used across all sports as well as automobile safety applications.”
Virginia Tech researchers will monitor and collect data from two local Blacksburg recreational teams. Long-time study collaborators Wake Forest School of Medicine, part of Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in North Carolina, and Brown University in Rhode Island will each monitor and collect data from two youth football teams in their respective region.
The two teams at Wake Forest School of Medicine are lead by Joel Stitzel and Jill Urban, with additional funding from the Childress Institute for Pediatric Trauma. At Brown University, Trey Crisco and Beth Wilcox lead the research efforts for their two teams.
Also leading the research team are Jonathan Beckwith and Rick Greenwald, founder of New Hampshire-based technology firm Simbex and Art Maerlender of the University of Nebraska Lincoln, who will head neuropsychology testing and collection.
As with earlier studies involving scores of Virginia Tech athletes, this study also will involve Mike Goforth, head athletic trainer, and Brett Griesemer, assistant trainer, both with Virginia Tech Athletics; Gunnar Brolinson, professor of sports medicine and head team doctor, and Marc Rogers, an associate professor of sports medicine, both with the Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine; and Eric Smith of the Department of Statistics with the College of Science at Virginia Tech.
Virginia Tech biomedical engineering doctoral students working on the study are Megan Bland of State College, Pennsylvania; Eamon Campolettano of Hicksville, New York; Jaclyn Press of Doylestown, Pennsylvania; Jake Smith of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; and David Sproule of Houghton, Michigan.
“Five years from now, the hope is that we have a very strong understanding of the severity and frequency of impacts for youth football,” said Campolettano, who joined Duma and Rowson’s research team earlier this year. “Further, we can use this data to design improved testing methodologies for youth football helmets.”
Simbex is supporting the Head Impact Telemetry System – or HITS, for short – instrumentation that is part of the Elyria, Ohio-based Riddell’s Sideling Response System that records head impact exposure.
HITS is an accelerometer array mounted against a player’s head, inside the helmet, that will be used to quantify linear and rotational accelerations. The system builds on technology previously used to measure head impacts of Virginia Tech football players since 2003.
Instrumented mouth guards purchased from a second private firm, Kirkland, Washington-based I1 Biometrics will be custom fit to each player. Called the Vector, the mouth guard uses accelerometers and gyroscopes to measure linear and rotational accelerations. Both HITS and Vector transmit data wirelessly in real-time to researchers on the sidelines.
Coordinating statistical analysis for the study, Virginia Tech’s Eric Smith added, “It is quite natural for statisticians to be part of projects such as this one as statisticians are partly ‘data engineers.’ We think a lot about the data collection as a process and work to ensure the quality of the data.”
The grant is awarded using funds from the National Institutes of Health’s Bioengineering Research Partnership (BRP). This is the second BRP for this research team, and it expands on a previous award from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. The first BRP focused on collegiate football and hockey and resulted in more than 100 technical publications and presentations.
Duma and his research team have garnered international recognition during the past decade for creating a ratings system for adult football helmets, as well as a similar system for hockey helmets introduced this year.
Additionally, Duma is part of a $30 million national effort to combat concussions among college athletes and active military personnel.
The three-year project involves male and female NCAA student-athletes participating in football, women’s soccer, men’s soccer, and women’s lacrosse.
Virginia Tech’s Institute for Critical Technology and Applied Science provided support in developing the successful proposal submission to the National Institutes of Health, said Duma.
By Tina Hilding, Voiland College of Engineering & Architecture
With increasing concern about concussions from sports, some players have started wearing electronic sensors to measure head impacts.
But a new study by Washington State University researchers has found that some of the sensors for non-helmeted sports are not fast enough to measure hard hits and don’t accurately measure what are thought to be the most serious, angular hits. They report on their work online in the journal Procedia Engineering (http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1877705815014447).
“Concussions are a really challenging problem,’’ said Lloyd Smith, professor in the Voiland College’s School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering and director of WSU’s Sports Science Laboratory. “What we’re worried about is what’s going on with the brain, but we don’t have brain sensors that we can plug into. The closest thing is to see what is happening to the skull. That’s what these sensors are trying to do.
“The message is that you have to be careful with these sensors,” he said. “They may not work for every type of impact.’’
A ball is in the barrel of an air cannon before firing during testing in the lab.
The laboratory is the official baseball bat-testing facility for the NCAA and one of the premier labs in the nation for exploring the physics of bats, balls and, recently, the interplay of balls and the human head.
Most head-impact sensors have been developed within the past five years, and many college-level football teams have their players wear them. When a player receives a hard hit, the sensor records it and alerts trainers.
Researchers are also using data they’re collecting from the sensors to improve their understanding about sports-related head trauma. They have found that the helmeted sensors accurately measure hits.
Less commonly used are non-helmeted wireless sensors, which are affixed to headbands, mouth guards, adhesive patches or within an earpiece that the player can wear for sports like soccer, women’s lacrosse or softball.
In the study, the researchers attached the non-helmeted sensor to a head dummy. Using a pneumatic cannon, they fired lacrosse balls, soccer balls and softballs at it at different speeds. The researchers equipped the dummy with high-fidelity, wired accelerometers to collect data for comparison with feedback from the small, battery-powered sensor.
The researchers recorded 234 impacts, directing the balls at the dummy’s chin and forehead. Ball speeds were similar to those found in game conditions, although the softball was projected at speeds slower than seen in fast-pitch competition to avoid damaging the dummy. The soccer ball was only directed at the forehead.
The researchers found that the non-helmeted sensors aren’t able to accurately measure harder and faster hits, such as an impact from a hard-thrown softball. To measure the impact from a ball, the devices take a lot of measurements in rapid succession. The sensors were able to accurately see the hits from the softer, slower balls, but they couldn’t take data fast enough to keep up with the faster hits.
When the impact is harder, the sensor missed the peak acceleration, which would have the highest potential for causing a concussion.
“The harder the ball, the less correlation we found,’’ Smith said.
The researchers also found that the sensors did worse at measuring rotational than linear acceleration. Earlier work has found that most head injuries from sports come about from a hit that twists the head rather than a direct hit.
The researchers used a sensor with hardware specifications representative of most sensors of its kind. They are working with the sensor manufacturer and hope to do more studies that could lead to improvements. The manufacturer had no say in the study design or the interpretation of results.
“These sensors are one element in many ways to make sports safer,’’ said Smith. “I’m optimistic that people are taking these injuries more seriously, and I think it’s really encouraging in helping us better understand the effects and causes of concussions.’’