Two chemists from East Lansing’s Michigan State University today announced they have brought to market wearable impact sensors that can be worn by athletes at high risk for concussions. The sensors slide into headbands or helmets and can be worn during soccer, football, lacrosse, bicycling, rugby, and other high-contact sports where concussions are likely.
“The key decision that our product can help address is ‘return to play,’” says Marcos Dantus, co-inventor of the product. “It does not diagnose concussions, but it does give an immediate indication of an impact and its location – an alert that should prompt a concussion protocol from a coach, a parent, or a doctor.”
The new product moved from laboratory to market in just 18 months, and Dantus and co-creator Gary Blanchard have already begun making improvements. During that time, the pair created a force sensor where a star appears upon impact. The force sensor is preferred over electronic devices because sweat, humidity, rain, snow, and other conditions can affect the typical sensor’s performance.
“Other monitors are available, but they can be expensive and overly sensitive to weather and other extreme conditions experienced during competition,” says Blanchard. “Many times these models have to be connected to a computer, have the data downloaded, and then have it analyzed before any recommendations regarding concussion protocols can begin.”
Once the sensor design was finalized, the pair began prototyping headbands, testing dozens of options before incorporating the sensors into gear many athletes are already wearing. The company also outsourced the production to several U.S. companies.
The product’s first customers include a handful of Michigan high school sports teams. Danuts and Blanchard say they are helping the teams better utilize the product while collecting data to improve future generations of sensors.
The headbands and caps currently retail for less than $40 and can be ordered here.