A new study has found that sensors used to measure head impacts by athletes and sports players, but that are not installed in helmets, may be inaccurate.
Washington State University (WSU) have conducted a study and discovered that some of the sensors for non-helmeted sports are not fast enough in measuring hard hits and are therefore providing incorrect data.
The results of the study have been published on the Science Direct website and Procedia Engineering journal. The sensors are installed to measure the impact of hard hits during sports games; they act as the closest thing to seeing “what is happening to the skull” said Lloyd Smith, the director of WSU´s Sports Science Laboratory.
Helmet sensors have only been developed within the last five years and are used by many college-level sports teams, specifically football. Non-helmeted sensors, however, are less commonly used and as the study suggests are far less accurate at recording impact data. Non-helmeted sensors are often installed in mouthguards, headbands and earpieces.
The study involved attaching a non-helmeted sensor to a head dummy and firing lacrosse, soccer and softballs at it. Over 230 impacts were recorded to the dummy´s chin and forehead; it was found that harder and faster impacts resulted in the least accurate recordings.
The sensors work by taking a number of measurements in rapid succession during an impact. Softer, slower impacts provided adequate information but those of a harder and faster nature made it difficult for the sensors to gather enough data fast enough, and information relating to the peak acceleration of the ball was missed. These hits have the most potential to cause concussion and therefore information on their impact is vital.
Smith concluded: “These sensors are one element in many ways to make sports safer.” He said he was optimistic that “people are taking these injuries more seriously” and hopes to work with sensor manufacturers to lead to improvements in the devices.