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AANS Neurosurgeon | Volume 28, Number 3, 2019

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CHOP Study Demonstrates How to Collect True Impact Incidents from Head Impact Sensors in Youth Sports

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An increased awareness of concussion risks in young athletes has prompted researchers to use a variety of head impact sensors to measure frequency and severity of impacts during sports. A new study from Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) shows these head sensors can record a large number of false positive impacts during real game play. The CHOP team’s study emphasizes that an extra step to video-confirm the sensor data is essential for research and for use of this data in injury prevention strategies for player safety.

Approximately 1 in 5 high school athletes who plays a contact sport – such as soccer, lacrosse, and American football – suffers a concussion each year. To understand the frequency, magnitude and direction of head impacts that athletes sustain, a wide variety of sensors have been developed to collect head impact biomechanics data, including instrumented helmets, skull caps, headbands, mouthguards and skin patches.

However, when data are collected during game play rather than in a controlled laboratory environment, there is potential for false positives and false negatives. In this study, CHOP researchers used data collected from headband-based head impact sensors worn by male and female soccer players to determine the proportion of false positives within the data and if video confirmation improved the quality of the data.

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