GA Southern technology works to prevent football concussions - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

GA Southern technology works to prevent football concussions

Photo courtesy: Georgia Southern University Photo courtesy: Georgia Southern University
Photo courtesy: Georgia Southern University Photo courtesy: Georgia Southern University
Photo courtesy: Georgia Southern University Photo courtesy: Georgia Southern University
STATESBORO, GA (WALB) -

Football practice began Thursday morning at Georgia Southern University with new equipment designed to protect players from concussions.

The Georgia Southern University Eagles football team is using technology called the Helmet Impact Telemetry System, or HITS, which measures and records every hit to the head during practices and games.

Georgia Southern is currently the only college football team in Georgia to use the technology.

University President Brooks Keel says they received a $385,000 National Institutes of Health Grant in 2011 to study concussions, and are using the opportunity to reduce the risks players face on the field.

With funding from the Office of the Vice President for Research and Economic Development, Georgia Southern has equipped 40 helmets with the new system, made by Riddell.

Six sensors inside each helmet measure the severity of a hit to the head. A typical impact in football lasts about 15 milliseconds, and in that instant, measurements from the sensors are transmitted in nearly real-time to a laptop computer being monitored on the sidelines of practices and games.

"While this is not a diagnostic piece of medical equipment, it is an early warning system," explained Tom Buckley, Ed.D., professor of athletic training. "Each time a player gets hit in the head, which can be 30-40 time per practice and game, we can get the calculations on exactly what happened and see how severe the impact was."

If a hit reaches a certain threshold, a pager worn by a graduate research student and the head athletics trainer will receive a notification.

Each impact is time stamped and can be synchronized with game video so coaches, athletics trainers and researchers can better evaluate the hits.

They hope to eventually lower the overall risks and improve player performance.

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