University football program adopts concussion-detecting smart helmets

Brain injuries are a common cause of serious disablement and are often the basis for personal injury lawsuits. The majority of these claims relate to car accidents and slip and falls, but in rare cases also involve sports injuries. Though liability can be difficult to prove in cases involving organized sports, brain injuries – especially concussions – remain a concern for healthcare advocates and brain injury lawyers alike.

The dangers of concussions have become better known in recent years as news exposés have shed light on the long-term impacts and former professional athletes have launched high-profile lawsuits. Increased awareness has resulted in improved concussion protocols and, in Ontario, meaningful legislation to reduce concussions among student athletes.

More recently, the football program at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, announced its players will wear sensor-equipped “smart helmets” to identify impacts that could cause concussions. The helmets will also record players’ impact histories to create individual profiles.

“What the sensors in the helmets do is give us an impact rating,” Dalhousie Football head coach Mark Haggert told the Globe and Mail. “It’s almost like a smoke alarm. … It’s going to alert the sidelines and we’ll be able to pull that athlete off the field and assess what the impact was.”

The in-helmet sensors will send an alert to training staff when a player experiences a hit, or series of hits, whose intensity crosses a certain threshold. The threshold will be determined according to analysis of decades worth of data from more than a million hits on American football fields, according to the Globe.

To the relief of brain injury lawyers everywhere, the helmets are designed to supplement, not replace existing concussion protocols. They will also help the coaching and training staff identify high-intensity hits that occur in the melee of on-field action, hits that might otherwise go unnoticed.

“It’s very hard [to see these hits], unless you had a drone going 24/7,” said Coach Haggert. “The sensors will take readings of the things we can’t see.”

Dalhousie’s smart helmets won’t help most brain injury victims recover from their injuries, but they do signal a wider awareness of the risks associated with head traumas and a broad interest in preventing them. With luck, this interest will spread beyond the sports field to address brain injuries throughout society.

If you or a member of your family has suffered a serious brain injury, contact Will Davidson LLP to arrange a free, no-obligation consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer today. Our team of brain injury lawyers can help you understand your legal options and provide guidance and representation as you advance your case.

Image credit: Cephas/Wikimedia Commons


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