11/30/2012 06:02 pm ET Updated Jan 30, 2013

Smart Helmets Could Flag Players At Risk For Trauma

By Larry Greenemeier
(Click here for the original article and podcast)

Headed into this year's football season, much was made of the NFL's efforts to better protect players from serious injury. Concussions were a particular concern, yet this season has seen more than its share of players sidelined due to brain trauma. lists more than 75 players who've sustained concussions so far this season.

Researchers at Sandia National Laboratories and the University of New Mexico are using supercomputer simulations to study the relationship between the size and direction of concussive force and traumatic brain injury, or TBI. They're focusing on soldiers, but the findings apply to the gridiron as well. The hope is that helmet designers can use this data to better protect both soldiers and athletes.

It's debatable whether any helmet can truly prevent TBI, but one idea is to embed sensors in the headgear that signal whether the impact of a hit is strong enough to cause concern. That way, even if a nasty hit doesn't cause a concussion, a team would know to remove a player from the game to avoid a second hit that could cause brain damage.


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