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UNH Using Advanced Head Impact Sensors to Improve Player Safety

Release Date:
8/20/2013 5:00 PM
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Athletes in Football, Men’s and Women’s Soccer to Wear ‘Smart Impact Monitors’

Aug. 20, 2013

WEST HAVEN, CONN. – As part of a national effort to better understand the effect of concussions on athletes, the University of New Haven this fall will become the first college in the nation to use the most advanced high-tech impact sensors to document head trauma to its student-athletes.

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The UNH women's and men's soccer teams demonstrate Smart Impact Monitors for the media

The sensors, called Smart Impact Monitors, will be used on UNH’s football and men’s and women’s soccer teams. They are designed to detect and record head impact in real time and to prevent the cumulative effects of repeated head trauma by providing trainers and coaches with information that can improve athletes’ training and help them make decisions about limiting a player’s time on the field.

Head trauma in football and soccer has been a growing concern among athletes and their parents nationwide at all levels of sport since it came to light that several National Football League players suffered debilitating injuries linked to repeated concussions. 

“Studies show we do a poor job of recognizing concussions,” said Chris Nowinski, founding executive director of the nonprofit Sports Legacy Institute. “We are excited about the ability of head sensors to help identify potential concussions and get injured athletes off the field, as well as monitor sub-concussive exposure through a Hit CountTM.”

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Testing the sensors at DellaCamera Stadium

The Sports Legacy Institute is a nonprofit organization dedicated to solving the sports concussion crisis. Nowinski, a former Harvard football player and WWE wrestler who was forced to retire in 2003 after suffering a series of concussions, also serves as a co-director of the Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy (CSTE) at Boston University School of Medicine.

“The University of New Haven has a strong commitment to player safety,” President Steven H. Kaplan said.  “We are privileged to use these sensors; our student-athletes will benefit tremendously from them.”

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Chad Hollingsworth of Triax Technologies Corp. demonstrates the sensor on a mannequin head

The lightweight Triax sensor, worn at the base of the skull on a headband for soccer players or on a skull cap under a helmet by football players, is one of the first sensors on the market that measure impact in real time and, at a cost of $99 per player, are less expensive than others on the market that cost between $149 and $1,500 per player. Other sensors on the market include those attached to helmets worn by football players, but they are not appropriate for sports like soccer, where no helmet is worn.

The device, made by Triax Technologies Corp. of Norwalk, Conn., has the capability to measure the force of the impact in real time, alert a trainer or coach, and store the information from each scrimmage, practice or game so the cumulative effect of the impacts to the head can be evaluated.  In addition, the software can isolate impacts sustained during contact drills in practice using its proprietary T.E.S.T. ™ protocol, and this information can be used to improve the technique of athletes to help reduce the potential of a head or neck injury.

“Protecting our student-athletes is always at the forefront of our minds,” said Deborah Chin, associate vice president for athletics and recreation. “Not only does the UNH-Triax partnership provide an opportunity for the Chargers to stay ahead of the curve, but it also puts UNH on the cutting edge of technology.”

The sensors are the only ones available that work both for non-helmeted sports like soccer, and for helmeted sports. “The Smart Impact Monitor is the most robust impact monitor on the market,” said Dale Hollingsworth, president and founder of Triax. “The University of New Haven’s commitment to the safety and future well-being of their student athletes is something all university administrators should be concerned about,” he said.

In recent years, scrutiny and litigation against the National Football League have raised concerns on the part of players and their family members about concussions. New research done by the Cleveland Clinic has found that even when players don’t suffer a concussion, repeated impacts to the head may cause brain damage.

Concern about head injuries has led to a decline in interest in youth and high school football. There are about 68,000 men playing college football in the U.S. and about 1,700 players in the National Football League.

The University of New Haven is a private, top-tier comprehensive institution recognized as a national leader in experiential education. Founded in 1920 on the campus of Yale University in cooperation with Northeastern University, UNH moved to its current West Haven campus in 1960. The University operates a satellite campus in Tuscany, Italy, and offers programs at several locations throughout Connecticut and in New Mexico. UNH provides its students with a unique combination of a solid liberal arts education and real-world, hands-on career and research opportunities. The University enrolls approximately 6,400 students, including nearly 1,800 graduate students and more than 4,600 undergraduates – the majority of whom reside in University housing. Through its College of Arts and Sciences, College of Business, Henry C. Lee College of Criminal Justice and Forensic Sciences, Tagliatela College of Engineering, and College of Lifelong & eLearning, UNH offers 75 undergraduate and graduate degree programs. UNH students have access to more than 50 study abroad programs worldwide, and its student-athletes compete in 16 varsity sports in the NCAA Division II’s highly competitive Northeast-10 Conference.

Founded in 2012 by entrepreneur Dale Hollingsworth, Triax Technologies Inc. is headquartered in Norwalk, Conn. and manufactures wireless impact sensors for use in helmeted and non-helmeted contact sports. Triax is committed to making all contact sports safer and to developing and manufacturing products made in the USA.