Inside SportTechie’s PRO DAY: Exploring Helmet Technology and Innovation

Written by Joe Lemire, SportTechie

At the center of the conversation about brain health and CTE is a debate about the efficacy of helmets: can they protect not just the skull from fractures but also shield the brain from short-term injuries and long-term neurocognitive diseases?

Antonio Brown inspired a multitude of headlines this summer, from the serious to the farcical, for his insistence on wearing a helmet that the NFL had deemed unsafe. The former Steelers/Raiders/Patriots wide receiver filed and ultimately lost two grievances because the league had ruled that 10 helmet models were prohibited due to their poor performance in laboratory testing.

The NFL and its players’ association have commissioned annual tests to simulate concussive impacts and determine which helmets offer the best protection. Speaking at SportTechie’s Helmet & Technology Innovation PRO DAY last week in Washington, D.C., Jeff Crandall, the chair of the NFL’s Engineering Committee, said he believes that—based on the physics of lab testing and the on-field game data—there has been progress in this area. “We should all have an understanding that helmets reduce concussions,” Crandall said. “It’s statistically significant. They are part of the solution.”

At the center of the conversation about brain health and CTE is a debate about the efficacy of helmets: can they protect not just the skull from fractures but also shield the brain from short-term injuries and long-term neurocognitive diseases?

Antonio Brown inspired a multitude of headlines this summer, from the serious to the farcical, for his insistence on wearing a helmet that the NFL had deemed unsafe. The former Steelers/Raiders/Patriots wide receiver filed and ultimately lost two grievances because the league had ruled that 10 helmet models were prohibited due to their poor performance in laboratory testing.

The NFL and its players’ association have commissioned annual tests to simulate concussive impacts and determine which helmets offer the best protection. Speaking at SportTechie’s Helmet & Technology Innovation PRO DAY last week in Washington, D.C., Jeff Crandall, the chair of the NFL’s Engineering Committee, said he believes that—based on the physics of lab testing and the on-field game data—there has been progress in this area. “We should all have an understanding that helmets reduce concussions,” Crandall said. “It’s statistically significant. They are part of the solution.”

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Historically, the main purpose of helmets has been to prevent catastrophic injuries such as skull fractures. But Robert Stern, the director of clinical research at the BU CTE Center, says he is “skeptical” that helmets can prevent brain trauma inside the skull. Some of Stern’s most recent research, published earlier this month by the Annals of Neurology, found a strong correlation between the duration of a football player’s time on the field and the likelihood of developing CTE. Every 2.6 years of playing the sport doubled those chances, independent of the number of diagnosed concussions. The culprit, he says, are the regular, subconcussive impacts.

“That repetitive trauma appears to start this cascade of changes in the brain,” Stern said at SportTechie’s PRO DAY. “That eventually starts to progress and eventually leads to the destruction of brain tissue and eventually, therefore, leads to the symptoms as someone gets older.”

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The future of sports tech: Here’s where investors are placing their bets

Written by Michael Proman, TechCrunch

Sports and Gambling Concept. Basketball with American dollars.

Sports have always been the ultimate unifier — transcending geographic borders, rising above partisan politics and enabling multiple audiences (and generations) to find alignment — the little-known secret behind this global unifier? Technology.

Technology influences how athletes train and compete, how fans engage and consume content and how world-class venues are constructed. Technology has been quietly transforming the world of sports for years, with investment in areas like esports continuing to rise, surpassing a total of $2.5 billion in VC funding in 2018 — and some estimates predicting the sports tech sector will reach $30 billion by 2024.

With the 2020 Tokyo Olympics less than a year away, a massive amount of investment and innovation are pouring into the sports technology industry ahead of this globally unifying event. But which technologies are making the biggest impact? Where are investors placing their bets? Which sports are at the forefront of the technology revolution and which factors are holding the industry back?

In an attempt to pull the curtain back on the sports tech industry, we conducted a survey, The Current State of Sports Technology, of industry experts, including investors, founders and professionals from teams, leagues and media properties, to answer these very questions. Below you’ll find some key takeaways from our findings, pointing to the areas we believe the industry is headed in the year to come. Read More >>

Inside the NFL’s Blue Tents: How Technology Is Used on Sidelines to Help Diagnose Concussions

By Joe Lemire – As seen on SportTechie

The only video allowed on the sidelines during an NFL game is the Injury Video Review System, which runs on a flat-screen Tru-Vu monitor and is controlled by an Xbox remote. Coaches must rely on photographs in order to make in-game adjustments, but reviewing actual replays is a mandatory part of the league’s concussion protocol, offering the team doctor and unaffiliated neurotrauma consultant (UNC) more insights about the mechanism for injury—that is, the potentially concussive blow a player suffered.

The system is stored in a black cart that’s kept next to the blue medical tent where physicians conduct sideline exams. Clad in a red hat for easy identification, the UNC holds a Microsoft Surface tablet and reviews the player’s symptoms, checking off boxes in a concussion assessment app from C3 Logix, a spinoff from the Cleveland Clinic. The physician checks the athlete’s pupils, coordination and speech and asks the Maddocks questions, a series of queries designed to check for confusion or amnesia. The tablet also provides access to electronic medical records to assist with the evaluation. Read more >>