Researchers at the Cleveland Clinic Concussion Center believe they have the perfect tool for studying and possibly preventing concussions in athletes.
The “Intelligent Mouthguard” features a number of embedded sensors that can measure the magnitude, location and direction/orientation of impacts to the head.
A page on the Cleveland Clinic’s website notes that the mouthguard was shaped by the design team’s early recognition that placement of impact sensors in a mouthpiece — as opposed to a helmet, skullcap, skin patch or other head gear — is the optimal way to achieve precision in head impact measurement, ensuring that sensor movement is reliably coupled with actual head movement.
The Clinic has tested the mouthguard on four amateur boxers (ages 15 to 18) during five three-minute sparring rounds, and on eight American football players (ages 11 to 20) during four practices and scrimmages.
Dr. Jay Alberts, director of the Cleveland Clinic Concussion Center, told the Fox affiliate in Cleveland he hopes the research will lead to the development of preventative measures. “I think we’ll definitely have a prevention component,” Alberts said. “If we can monitor the impact, then we may be able to pull someone out appropriately or monitor their accumulated impact over the course of a season.”
Researchers are now refining the hardware and hope to make the Intelligent Mouthguard available to all athletes very soon.