OT: Will this device for measuring head impacts revolutionize football?

Submitted by Don on July 13th, 2013 at 1:12 AM

Reebok has developed Checklight, an impact sensor for the head which can be worn under a helmet and records the number of hits at different intensities. It has a flashing indicator that will indicate a level of impact sufficient to warrant removal from competition for assessment.

While football is the sport getting the most attention regarding concussions and other head injuries, hockey is another logical sport for this.




July 13th, 2013 at 1:54 AM ^

Great idea. Glad to see this type of technology is being worked on. Although using the "skull cap" would provide a better reading of actual impact to the head, I doubt this really takes hold until they integrate the technology into the helmet. Then it becomes standard gear the team provides and the player has to wear. Also would be well used in baseball to track impact of getting beaned.


July 13th, 2013 at 2:14 AM ^

I don't see the need for this, at least not at a pro level. The players just need to recognize and deal with the fact they could suffer severe injuries. If any player doesn't want to play they don't need to. I'm all for making sports safe, but when you are forced to change the game I think it needs to stop. 


July 13th, 2013 at 2:28 AM ^

And see that's the problem: It's not about a severe injury. More often, it's about lots of accumulated "little" injuries, and you don't realize at the time that you're doing damage to yourself. Something that would measure that accumulated impact and give you some guidance on when to allow yourself to recover could potentially make the difference between significant brain damage and being able to live a normal life post-NFL.


July 13th, 2013 at 10:47 AM ^

Wait, hold on. So if technology that kept players safe did diminish your enjoyment of the game, you'd be against it? Not trying to be a dick here, I just really want to know. We can say "oh yeah, it's their decision to play in a dangerous game, and as a fan I want my money's worth!", and all of that is certainly true. However, consider this: you and I and anybody who tunes in to watch or listen to the games are a big part of the reason why these players are doing this, which means that at some level we are culpable when they do what we, in essence, have asked them to do, and it results in injury. And because of that, I don't think I can justify opposing any effective way to keep players safer. Do what you need to do, and if I don't like the resulting product, I won't tune in.


July 13th, 2013 at 10:31 AM ^

Sorry, "5star," but it's a tad selfish to expect our heroes to die early or live severely-downgraded lives after football for our entertainment.  As one who has been on the soapbox about concussions and their impact since Christopher Nowinski started the Sports Legacy Institute and began to publicize the effects of CTE, I am happy to see this development.

Eventually, football will find a compromise that makes the game safer for its participants while keeping most of the elements that the mainstream fan likes.  The only people who will "suffer" will be the ones who sit on their couches or in their seats while screaming for players to hit each other harder.


July 13th, 2013 at 2:34 AM ^

I think you're not understanding the real problem here. As stated on this board and elsewhere, CTCs are thought to be developed by prolonged head trauma. Although concussions are a major source of these, small impacts to the head over an elongated period can develop CTCs. Unfortunately, I'm not sure how much these helmets would help...and apparently I didn't type fast enough


July 13th, 2013 at 3:50 AM ^

as commonly heard, correlation does not mean causation.

the colors on this sensor cannot indicate if you have or have not sustained a concussion.  it just measures the frequency of impact, and as the video admits, "it's not diagnostic"

it's like trying to use a simple pedometer to address a running injury.


July 13th, 2013 at 10:14 AM ^

But if say, MHSAA adopted this as required gear one day and a player was required to go off for evaluation when he got a red light, I'd think that would still be a significant improvement even if the equipment isn't an automatic concussion detector.


July 13th, 2013 at 6:32 AM ^

How do you deal with trauma to the brain which comes from body to body hits, i.e. non-head contact?  Cleveland Clinic, I believe, a few months ago did a study showing that when hard hits to the bodies of football players occur, the brain is still impacted due to the decelerative forces and the whiplash that exacerbates the hit.

As a football fan, I find this topic disturbing as I have been wondering if the nature of the game is such that brain trauma can't be eliminated without changing the game to the point it isn't worth watching.  It may be one thing if NFL players know the risks and sign waivers which relieves the NFL of any present or future liability; I can't see the same scenario playing out with universities.


July 13th, 2013 at 7:38 AM ^

Honestly, the best way may be to remove padding. The hits in football are much more violent and at high speeds due to the protective nature of the "uniform". Rugby doesn't have this issue because players have to be conscious about preventing injury instead of going 110% and relying on advanced gear.


July 13th, 2013 at 9:30 AM ^

Not only that, but rugby players are also taught the "cheek to cheek" tackling method. If they don't tackle correctly, they either get penalized for a high tackle, or the runner can just get back up and keep advancing the ball (if not wrapped up).


July 13th, 2013 at 11:09 AM ^

In theory, all contact sports would have the issue to one degree or another.  But what I'm saying is the devastating and sometimes literally crippling hits are when someone leaves their feet, uses their body as a projectile, and spears someone helmet to helmet.

In my entirely unprofessional opinion if you take away the helmet, stabalizing collars, and shoulder/chest padding,  make high tackles a penalty, someone isn't going to be a human missile at someone's head.  They're not going to bust their face open, be out 3 games, and go get carted off for 120 stitches for any 'ooh's and ahh's' or to save a yard here or there.

Will the issue still arise from time to time? Sure. But will we have a decreased number people with severe injury from whiplash, paralysis, brain damage, etc.? Maybe. But at this point, I think it's worth exploring.

Many athletes have come out to say the reason they go all out, all the time, is that the immediate pain factor isn't there with today's equipment.  The problem is that internal damage can and does still arise and be prevalent over time.

Just my two cents that probably isn't even worth as much.


July 13th, 2013 at 5:48 AM ^

No mc10 isn't a DJ . A pretty cool start up out of bean town that is making waves in the health tech space. The virtual vital signs thing is even cooler. IMO


July 13th, 2013 at 6:32 AM ^

The idea is nice, but I'm pretty sure concussions aren't all or none phenomena that occur only after reaching a certain threshold of hits


July 13th, 2013 at 6:58 AM ^

It may have been mentioned here before, but Michigan will be using one of the competitors to this technology this year per a TIME article (HERE). The X-Patch from X2 Biosystems is a quarter-sized patch which is attached to the neck and transmits impact data through a secure connection to any authorized tablet or computer on the sideline. It will then match the force of the hit to existing data to make a determination.

Like the mc10 device overview here (LINK), it is a "pathway to assessment" (to use their words). Interestingly, mc10 is run by NFL veteran Isiah Kacyvenski, who said of his own company's device: “The whole point of the CheckLight system is that you don’t want the red or yellow light to be triggered. In our field tests, the majority of coaches reported that their athletes were more cognizant of keeping their head out of the path of impact. This is a real-time teaching tool to give you instantaneous feedback.”


July 13th, 2013 at 7:59 AM ^

But football is still a very violent game and it's not going to stop the serious head injuries. Especially when you're talking about some RBs who lower their head so much (and yes NFL is trying to change that) but we all know it still is going to be a problem. This may help slow it down though


July 13th, 2013 at 8:11 AM ^

Is one of Michigan's Kinesiology professors...you know that "easy" jock program (kinesiology. '92alum) and he has been doing a lot of concussion research with Ann Arbor Skyline, the NFL, MLB, NHL, etc. and a LOT of new study/data is coming from the University. It could change the landscape of the game.

I spent a few hours at an alumni event talking about concussions, and he has been sharing info via email off and on since. Amazing stuff that really makes you think about contact sports.


July 13th, 2013 at 8:11 AM ^

And growth hormones. I think the vast majority of these injuries would be much less devastating if the players were not borderline superhuman. Look at how the size, weight, and speed has improved the last couple of generations. These guys can get huge with all this new weight training without the Peds. It has to feel like your getting hit by a wrecking ball when you get tackled. This is less about concussions and geared more towards injuries in general.


July 13th, 2013 at 8:17 AM ^

The worst impact is at the High school level. The reasoning being such a size differential. A HS freshman, typically in a speed/skill position at that age if you think about it...vs. a fully developed HS senior linebacker, the impact and forces vs. underdeveloped musculature and the rate of injury/force of impact is staggering.

In contrast, mutant roid vs. mutant roid is a leveled impact. They give as much as they get. Neck and core development absorb a lot of the impact. The issue certainly still exists as. Repetitive impact creates a summative effect, but you get the point..


July 13th, 2013 at 4:15 PM ^

you wanna clarify that statement?  I think you want to assume that every player is on PEDS.  Do you really think players like Clowney and Lebron are on the juice?    It has less to do with PEDs and more to do with understaning human athletic development.  Athletes from HS up train harder longer and better than they did 5 years ago.  That and humans are just bigger than they were 25 years ago.


July 13th, 2013 at 3:32 PM ^

I was about to post the same thing. Unintended consequences indeed. It makes the concept of "lighting him up" quite literal. By doing this, you're giving defensive players something to aim for, a tangible measurement of how "effective" they are at devastating hits. You best believe an NFL rookie looking for that last roster spot, or a redshirt freshman linebacker looking for some recognition and playing time is going to try to make any TE or WR coming over the middle light up like a Christmas tree.


July 13th, 2013 at 11:42 PM ^

you just don't have the type of repetitive hits, say 70 plays a game, that the head is involved in.   still need to protect the head, get rid of the high hits (especially the shoulder-to-opponents-head hits), but a device for incremental shots to the head is not necessary for hockey.