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North Carolina Prep Teams Test Force-Sensing Helmets

Courtney Cameron

The Pardee Hospital Foundation of Hendersonville, N.C., has been raising money to provide four local public high school football teams with new helmets that will measure the impact of head and neck collisions to flag potential concussions.

The teams at North Henderson, West Henderson, East Henderson and Hendersonville were given a select number of the costly Riddell helmets to be worn by athletes in what are considered the most vulnerable playing positions.

Each helmet is fitted with a sensor less than a centimeter in diameter that measures the G-force of field hits, according to the Hendersonville Lightning. The program is affiliated with a leading research program that has been used by the NCAA and NFL to establish concussion protocols.

Pardee director of sports medicine Dwayne Durham explained to the community last week that while the helmets are not intended to prevent or diagnose concussion, they are a valuable tool for alerting athletic trainers to high-impact hits.

“We’re going to be using this for data collection because what it does is whenever a player receives a hit the athletic trainer will have this sensor that is actually programmed to that helmet and it will tell us how many G-forces. It doesn’t mean the kid has a concussion but if it rings the buzzer we’re going the stop kids from playing just to make sure they’re OK,” Durham said.

Players clocking a hit to the head that measures more than 90 G-force — the threshold for possible injury leading to concussion — will be subjected to a cognition test.

“If they’re OK, we let ‘em go back,” Durham said. “If they’re not OK, they’re subject to a five-day treatment program.”

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