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November 11, 2015

How Important is it to Protect Athletes from Concussion and Injury?

Sports are fun. Fun to play, fun to watch, and I hear they can even be fun to coach. When I was kid running cross-country, the biggest challenge was getting up the killer hill on the Montpelier, VT high school course. My kids played different sports growing up, where they were getting into tight quarters, battling for a puck or ball with one or more players at a time. Their challenges in the midst of a competition required serious pads and gear to protect their growing bodies. I know from experience as a parent how important it is to protect all athletes from concussion and injury, from the youngest lacrosse player to the professional football player.

Technology now gives us more information and enables faster, more informed responses to keep players safe. For example, smart helmets have sensors that measure the force of an impact to capture what’s happening on the ice or on the field, as it happens. Data from all the players in the game can be quickly communicated to give coaches, medical staff and even parents information about what’s happening on the field. Those people can immediately gauge next steps for the affected player, whether that means it’s time to sit out for a play or two or more seriously, if a 911 call is required for emergency care. It’s not enough to ask the player how he feels or to rely on a series of quick questions and subjective evaluations to make a decision that can affect his long term health.

The building blocks for a meaningful Internet of Things solution like this include sensitive and rugged sensors to gauge and communicate the force of impacts to a player’s smart helmet or other protective gear, a gateway to aggregate data from multiple sensors (and players), an Internet of Things integration platform to bring the sensor data together with other information such as medical thresholds for impact force by age and weight to drive actions on the sidelines, and a means of getting the information to the decision makers quickly and reliably. These building blocks exist now and can be expertly combined to create valuable systems, information and insights.

Speed wins in many competitive sports. Speed is even more important when capturing and sharing vital information to protect the physical well-being of athletes at all levels. Real Internet of Things applications making a real difference in the lives of people are a big reason this work feels vitally important.

To know more, view the presentation IoT/M2M in High-Impact Sports.

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