In bid to prevent concussions, football players wear data-collecting helmets

Updated: Sep. 4, 2019 at 5:30 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - You can’t tell just by looking at their helmets, but Pac-Five football players are now wearing headgear outfitted with sensors.

So are St. Louis School’s varsity and JV players.

“It’s in the front of the helmet. It’s on the sides of the helmet, the very back and on the top. So it’s all around the helmet,” said Ross Oshiro, program coordinator for the Hawaii Concussion Awareness & Management Program..

The sensors track how many hits to the helmet a player takes during practice and games ― and the intensity of the blows.

The data is stored in a device.

HCAMP is conducting the season-long study in conjunction with a similar study being done by the University of Massachusetts-Lowell.

"The idea behind this study is to look at how we can take the head out of the tackling, take the head out of the blocking so it's a safer game for the participants," Oshiro said.

Surveys show high school football players absorb anywhere from 600 to 2,000 hits to the head over the course of a season.

About 50 Pac-Five players are wearing the Riddell helmets.

“I think it’s a responsibility for us as coaches to do our part in trying to help prevent concussions,” Pac-Five Coach Kip Botelho said.

There’s also a concussion prevention section to the study.

Before next season, players will practice tackling and blocking drills that are done without helmets so they learn techniques to protect their heads.

The sensor study will then be repeated to see if the number of helmet hits goes down.

"We want to make sure that they're hitting correctly and taking the head out of the game," Oshiro said.

The sensors also measure significant helmet strikes so a player can be tended to immediately.

“We can start the protocol, concussion protocol, and it’s based on fact not speculation,” Botelho said.

The research is funded through a grant from the Gary Galiher Foundation.

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