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Sports Equipment Technology

New Mouthguard Tracks Unseen Injuries in Sporting Events

October 16, 2013


Unseen injuries in sports such as concussions have lifelong repercussions for athletes. The recent $765 million settlement by the NFL was the result of the leagues handling of brain trauma. Although American football is highlighted for these types of injuries, concussions or other brain injury can take place at any time during a sporting event. A proactive approach is being implemented by sports organizations by adapting new technologies designed to recognize brain injury in the equipment athletes wear. Mark Dillon has invented the Mamori (Japanese for protect), a mouthguard with built-in sensors to detect when a player sustains a serious injury.

Detecting concussions as soon as it happens is especially important because players might not recognize their injury when it takes place. If an athlete doesn't have a physical injury that stops him or her from participating, they will continue even though the effect of the concussion they sustained persists. The cumulative effect of multiple concussions or second impact syndrome has resulted in permanent brain damage, crippling the athletes from having a normal life after their playing days are over.

The Mamori is fitted with a small accelerometer, gyroscope, magnetometer, a wireless chip, and a battery. The sensors measure acceleration, force, and 3D orientation and transmit the information to personnel on the sidelines so they can detect the impact athletes sustain.

The mouthguard was developed as part of the final year project for Dillon at the Dublin Institute of Technology. His research started by understanding how concussions were inflicted: "As my initial research was based around the role the helmet plays in contact sports, my time spent with medical staff and professors made it clear that most concussions in contact sports are applied around the jaw area and most medical staff will treat a patient for a head injury with no real knowledge of the incident, relying heavily on what the patient can recall or witnesses."

After spending some time with neurosurgeons and maxillofacial surgeons, Dillon was able to create his product following many developmental concept stages.

The invention by Dillon is a finalist for the James Dyson award, a competition designed to encourage university level design and engineering students to create products that can be applied in the world we live in today.

Using this type of technology will protect athletes from ever suffering second impact syndrome while they are participating in sporting events. This ensures the athlete has a productive life when they retire, and professional leagues can avoid paying multimillion dollar lawsuits.

Edited by Alisen Downey