May 6, 2016
New Football Helmet Detects Hits

Flagler County’s schools will be the first in Florida to use a new type of helmet that is equipped with technology that tracks the severity of blows to players’ heads.

According to The Daytona Beach News-Journal, the helmets, after registering a hit, send information on where the hit landed and how severe it was, to a computer, enabling athletic trainers to decide whether to take players off the field for evaluation. The system can monitor up to 150 players within 100 yards.

Robert Ripley, Head Coach at Matanzas High School in Palm Coast, Fla., said the system would make the district “pioneers” in ensuring players’ safety.

“We have the opportunity to be proactive instead of reactive to any type of severe hit or blow,” he told the Flagler County school board.

Katlyn Starks, Athletic Trainer at Matanzas, said that the system would help prevent players from hiding their concussions in order to avoid being removed from play.

“There’s no begging or pleading (if a concussion is diagnosed),” Starks said. “ They’re out. They know I don’t play about concussions.”

Nick Clark, a representative for Riddell, which manufacturers the helmets, explained that the sensors enable athletic trainers to be aware of when athletes take a blow, but they are not medical devices.

“It’s not saying the player has a concussion,” Clark said. “All it’s saying is, ‘Be alert. He took a hit’ or ‘He took multiple hits.’”

The Riddell SpeedFlex helmets cost roughly $429 each. Troy Coke, Head Coach for Seabreeze High School in Daytona Beach, Fla., said athlete safety is of the utmost importance, but expressed concern about the cost.

“Your standard helmet is not cheap, and now you’re talking about getting one with sensors in it, and you’re going to have to have a laptop, and you’re going to have to have somebody to read that information off the laptop,” he said.

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