High-tech helmets help in safety developments

April 19, 2011

A system developed in the US to prevent football head injuries may have future implications for equestrians.

Using a monitor that fits inside a football helmet, researchers at the Center for Injury Biomechanics are collecting data that measure the severity, location and angle of every hit to the head a football player receives during practice and games.

The data collected by the Head Impact Telemetry System could help helmet manufacturers develop safer products and increase information available to physicians, said Joel Stitzel, Director of the WFU arm of the center, a joint program of Virginia Tech and Wake Forest University.

Each year in the United States, athletes receive 1.6 million to 3.8 million sports-related concussions - the problem is, there's scant data and little research on the long-term effects of those injuries.

Virginia Tech, which participated in the development of the Head Impact Telemetry System helmet monitor and first deployed it, has used the device since 2003. Wake Forest began using the helmets this year during spring practice. Other university teams have also used the helmets.

The Center for Injury Biomechanics is an interdisciplinary research center that combines the Virginia Tech College of Engineering with the Wake Forest University School of Medicine.