From the tragic headlines about Junior Seau to President Obama’s recent statements, this past football season has left many of us questioning the safety of the game. Although no football gear can fully protect players from a concussion, new technologies are providing players with more options besides helmets, shoulder pads and cleats. (See also (Four Simple Tips to Understand and Prevent Concussions.)
The following two innovative products are designed to reduce the risk of head injuries by measuring impacts more reliably and cushioning blows to lower their injury potential—providing safer opportunities for athletes to succeed on the field.
Each year in the United States, over 3.8 million sports-related brain injuries are reported. However, many cases go undiagnosed by coaches, because athletes fail to show symptoms of a head injury.
The gForce Tracker is a small durable device that is easily inserted into any helmet. Once embedded, a real-time tracking account instantly informs coaches about the severity of a hit when an impact occurs. This information provides doctors and trainers with the reliable data they need to measure and detect injuries; allows them to analyze the cumulative effect of multiple impacts; and lets them monitor a player’s symptoms in relation to his brain activity. The device features a built-in alarm when an impact exceeds a certain threshold level, so the player can instantly receive the care he needs.
The Guardian Cap is a soft-shelled, waterproof football helmet cover that can potentially reduce the impact force athletes experience by as much as 33 percent. Weighing only one-third of a pound, its soft urethane material is designed to reduce friction when helmets collide, allowing the helmets to slide off each other rather than sticking, thereby reducing the severity of impacts. During the 2011 season, 600 Guardian Caps were distributed for a field trial. During this testing, there were zero reports of head or neck injuries among users. These promising results have prompted countless schools across the country to begin using Guardian Caps in their football programs.
Used only during practices (where 90 percent of concussions occur), it should provide some comfort for parents when they see their child tackled by a kid twice his size. Pro athlete supporters of the Guardian Cap include two-time Super Bowl champion Rodney Harrison, Fred McCray, Kelvin Garmon, Scott Lockwood and Mark Kelso. All have stated that they would not let their sons play football unless they wear the Guardian Cap during practices.