By Ian Bush
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Keeping tabs on an athlete’s health on the field is getting a technological boost: two devices that monitor for signs of serious head injury are due out over the next few months.
One is the CheckLight, a skullcap worn by itself or under a helmet. Reebok designed the $150 device to warn of the severity of a hit with blinking yellow or red lights.
“Brain is a soft tissue, kind of like tapioca pudding inside a bowl, and the bowl is the skull.”
Dr. Ausim Azizi, professor of neurology at Temple University School of Medicine, says injury can happen when the head is hit, or is jostled at high speed, or even is exposed to low-intensity vibrations, like a soldier might suffer from an IED.
“Anything that monitors the acceleration-deceleration or impact to the head is good. It’s a partial solution that brings up the awareness of the parents and coaches and the athletes themselves that their head has been moved back and forth — and perhaps some of the sub-clinical symptoms which are mild, like headaches and lack of concentration, could be because of moving the head and because of head injury or compressions.”
But the CheckLight, and the X-Patch from X2 Biosystems, which packs an impact sensor and wireless transmitter into something that looks like a Band-Aid behind the ear, aren’t replacements for a doctor.
“They only monitor how fast or how slow the head is moving or has been hit. But in no way do they indicate whether the brain is injured or not.”
About 3.8 million sports-related concussion-type injuries occur in the US each year, with very few of those who suffer them ever getting checked out at hospital.