New invention hopes to end ‘concussion epidemic’

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo.– Across the nation, more than 1 million high school athletes play football and lately, some sad news has hit the headlines.

Just this season, 12 players have been killed by football-related injuries, many of them from head trauma. One Colorado Springs man is trying to change that.

“The high school deaths in the youth is just tragic,” Troy Fodemski with Concussion Mitigation Technologies, LLC said.

Fodemski is working to better protect athletes with new technology. It’s called the ‘Smart Helmet,’ and the idea is to have 4 sensors detect a hit and immediately inflate a liquid-filled pad to absorb the blow.

“It’s really a more sophisticated version of automotive airbags,” Fodemski said. “This technology was out there. The sensing and computers in automobiles, sophisticated wireless command and control in phones. Why aren’t we putting it in helmets?”

He’s even figured out how to make the program work without wires.

It all began back in 2009 with a simple sketch on scratch paper. Soon, it could become the solution to tackling brain injuries on the field.

“When you watch a game, you don’t realize that there’s hits happening all the time of significance to the helmet,” Fodemski said. “We tend to focus just on the dramatic one where the player is hit and he goes down and he’s lying on the field. But in every play, there are hits happening to the helmet.”

Unfortunately, kids being killed by football-related injuries is nothing new. According to national media outlets, more than 150 high school students died from head, neck or spine injuries from 1965 to 1974. New helmet and tackling regulations luckily cut that number in half, but as athletes get bigger and stronger, those advances may not be enough.

“They experience about 600 hits to the helmet in a given year at an average of about 24G’s,” Fodemski said.

It’s no surprise considering the number of head injuries we’re seeing.

“The data is catching up and proving that we are, in fact, in a concussion epidemic,” Fodemski said.

According to Head Case Company, 1 in 5 high school athletes will get a concussion during their season. Last year, 70 percent of those competitors who had concussion symptoms kept playing.

“It’s not necessarily the singular massive blow to the head that causes the damage, but it’s the repeat hits, smaller level hits, on a given area of the brain overtime that cause dysfunction,” Fodemski said.

He said players this age haven’t fully developed their brains, leaving them more susceptible to serious damage.

“If they’re not wearing helmets that are as sophisticated as what we have in college or the pros, that’s a problem,” Fodemski said. “That’s where the highest technology should be, at the high school level to help protect our children.”

Fodemski said this technology could be used in any sport and even in military helmets. Right now, he’s working on finding funding, and trying to figure out the best way to fill the fluid pads that take the impact.

If you’d like more information about the smart helmet, you can check out their website CMTechnologies.org.

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