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NFL Checking Into Sensors in Helmets to Measure Impact of Hits

Gary Mihoces of USA Today reports the Southern Impact Research Center is testing sensors in helmets and mouth guards to measure the impact on hits in the NFL.

If the NFL decides the sensors (called accelerometers) are reliable, it plans to try them out on a sample of players in practice and play. That could be expanded in future years to a league-wide collection of hits data with an eye toward new rules, helmet improvements and better protection from concussions.

“The purpose is to find out in real time out on the field, as opposed to in a laboratory like we’re doing here, what types of impacts players take,” says Kevin Guskiewicz, director of sports-related brain injury research at the University of North Carolina and a member of the NFL’s head, neck and spine committee.

Falcons President Rich McKay, chairman of the league’s rules-making Competition Committee, welcomes more data. “It should help when we talk about all issues. That includes the rules on game day, offseason rules and training camp rules,” he says. “Because the one thing we’re in search for is as much data as we can get with respect to brain trauma.”

The efforts also include enforcement of rules against illegal hits. McKay says the rules makers want to protect players from “being put in positions where there’s an unreasonable risk of injury.” Data from sensors could help identify such high-risk hits. “When we understand that, it only helps us from the standpoint of trying to craft rules,” he says.

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