In a couple of weeks, the nation will be buzzing about Concussion, a movie about head injuries in pro football. But on sports radio and around family dinner tables in Texas, this has already become a big issue. Some are talking about a war on football – a New York Times op-ed this week argues that children under 18 shouldn’t play football or any other contact sport.
In the middle of this debate a Texas company is trying to address head injures by altering a piece of protective gear that has remained unchanged for nearly 60 years. Folks are calling it the “mouth guard of tomorrow,” and may be able to detect dehydration and head injuries during use.
“They call it a ‘smart phone in your mouth,’ which may or may not be an analogy people like,” he says. “It’s got sensors, it’s got a transmitter, it’s got a battery, it’s got an accelerometer to measure acceleration.”
Beckham says while it’s in the mouth, it tracks movement through the player’s top jawbone, which moves just as the skull moves. It registers with an app that someone on the sidelines can use to see information about the player’s movements and hits.
“It sends an alert, like ‘This person has taken a hit that is above a certain threshold,'” he says. “You should get him out of there and check him out.”
The inventors are clear to say it’s not a concussion detector, but more of an “early-warning system.” Beckham says Texas teams have been early adopters of the technology, including Texas A&M and a youth football program in North Texas.
Listen to the full interview in the audio player above.