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This headband could help athletes avoid the worst damage from concussions

By monitoring the severity of concussions, the BrainBAND aims to prevent long-term injuries from developing.

Image: Samsung Australia/YouTube

A NEW PROTOTYPE could help reduce the number of long-term concussion injuries experienced in sports like rugby.

The BrainBAND is an elastic headband which measures the force of an impact and then relays the information to medics, referees and coaches in real-time.

In games, players can take hits that are the equivalent of a car crash at 55km/h which can lead to Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), a neurodegenerative disease that can develop from concussions.

If a person experiences concussions repeatedly, it can cause symptoms like memory loss, depression, poor coordination skills and dementia. The symptoms don’t occur immediately but slowly develop over months and years.

The headband shows the force of impact by using coloured lights at the back – yellow, orange, and red depending on the severity – which tells them they need attention. All of the data is saved so players and staff can keep an eye on the level of impacts players receive over games.

brainband Source: Samsung Australia/YouTube

The Australian-made device was developed by Samsung and is being tested by amateur rugby union players to help fine-tune the design. Before that, it was tested on a dummy in a car crash, measuring a G-force of up to 120Gs. On average, players would receive hits of up to 30Gs with some hits reaching as high as 120G.

Neuroscientist Alan Pearce said currently the question of whether a player is considered fit to remain on the field after a big tackle or head clash is a subjective matter debated on the sidelines.

“That’s at the elite level but at the non-elite level… there’s no one there to really assess them properly,” Pearce, from the Swinburne University of Technology, told AFP.

It’s not necessarily the one or two big hits but it’s those constant, repetitive knocks to the head that don’t actually cause any symptoms that are leading to the long-term problems that a lot of the players are having.

The project is part of Samsung’s Launching People initiative which has come up with similar ways to help improve lives. It has developed a number of projects like the safety truck – a lorry which displays its front view on four screens at the back so cars behind know what’s in front of them.

The makers of the prototype say more testing needs to be done before it can be released, but hope it can help players and staff understand concussions better.

Source: Samsung Australia/YouTube

(Additional reporting from AFP)

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Quinton O'Reilly

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