Mobile technology in mouthguards warns athletes of concussion symptoms

Certain sports place such intense strain on physical athletes bodies that managing injuries during the season is part of every team’s long-term strategy. Trainers and medical staff members can handle sprained joints and pulled muscles, but more serious injuries can not only knock a player out of the roster for extended periods of time, but can also threaten athletes’ quality of life far after their careers are over.

Concussions are difficult to identify and can affect athletes’ current and future health, so it is imperative that the mobile technology industry produces devices to facilitate detection and diagnoses. That is the niche that i1 Biometrics, a Washington-based startup, is trying to fill. Focused on developing sensors that track force and direction of impact events, the company aims to spot concussion symptoms in their early stages with wearable mouthguard technology to protect athletes at all levels from the dangerous effects of the condition, InformationWeek reported.

A clear mind
Once misunderstood as “getting your bell rung,” concussions have now been reclassified as traumatic events that are difficult to detect at the outset. According to ClearedtoPlay.org, 15.8 percent of football players return to the playing field within 24 hours after sustaining a concussion, even though 50 percent of these “second impact” incidents result in death. Not only can concussions fly under the radar of most athletic trainers, ClearedtoPlay.org explained that a 2011 survey of high school athletes found that 15 percent of all injuries were concussions.

The most serious symptoms of the condition do not present until well after the impact event, which is why Jesse Harper, chief executive officer of i1 Biometrics, told InformationWeek that his company’s mouthguard combined with mobile technology has the potential to detect concussions in real time. Harper explained that existing in-helmet sensors only track force applied to the outer helmet – what trainers really need to be looking at is the trauma sustained inside the head. By inserting the mouthguard and wirelessly sending data to coaches or medical officials on the sidelines, Harper believes his mouthguard can protect athletes at every level of football, hockey and lacrosse.

In an intuitive approach to wearable mobile technology, the sensors in the mouthguard were constructed to minimize protrusions. Harper compared it to other nondigital products that athletes already wear. Familiar designs like this may help patients more willingly accept mobile technology to keep track of their own conditions, which could help patient engagement scores.

Sign up for News and Updates.