Monday, August 22, 2011

New device could help combat on-ice concussions

Sport-related concussions are becoming a growing concern among athletes, but one Ottawa company thinks it might have part of the solution: a piece of electronics that can measure the impact of on-ice hits to the head.

The device, which is a few inches long and about an inch thick, was developed by Impakt Protective Inc. Danny Crossman, the company's CEO, described it as "a small sensor" that's programmed to communicate via a Bluetooth technology to a smartphone like a BlackBerry.

The sensor sends data to the phone, which indicates the direction and magnitude of the hit, he said.

Although the device won't head off a concussive hit, the idea is that it can register when a player has suffered a concussion so that coaches or trainers can begin treatment right away.

"If a player's flat-out on the ice it's pretty easy to figure out something's happened," Crossman said.

But doctors are becoming increasingly concerned with "low-threshold hits," which he said might have a cumulative impact on a player. The device his company has developed could help "recognize" those, he said.

The sensor is small enough that it can embedded in a hockey or football helmet "amongst the padding," Crossman said. Impakt Protective is also looking at ways to install the device in older helmets, not just new ones.

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