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Smart helmets alert staff to hard hits on the gridiron

posted Aug 15, 2018, 12:52 PM by Cheryl Shuffler

Morganton, NC – Wednesday, Aug. 15, 2018


As Burke County high school football teams prepare for the upcoming season, coaches and trainers are using new technology to get inside players’ heads – or at least their helmets. All four football squads have received new Riddell helmets equipped with Riddell’s InSite Training Tool. The technology inside the helmets monitors hits to the head and alerts coaches and trainers to possible concussions.  


“These smart helmets have sensors that are wirelessly connected to sideline devices that let coaches and trainers know when a player takes a hard hit,” explained Burke County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Larry Putnam. “The player can come to the sidelines and get checked out before going back into the game. But, if it’s an extremely hard hit that the helmet measures, the player can get more attention on the sidelines and go through the concussion protocol procedures.”


The web-based, impact monitoring technology records nearly every head impact that occurs and builds data on players and the hits they take. The helmets are equipped with sensors on the front, top, sides and rear and record exactly where and how hard a player takes a hit to the head. That information goes to a national database to assist with studies on concussions but also gives local coaches an extra tool to help players with prevention techniques. Coaches can use the information to influence player behavior by helping correct the way they hold their heads. The technology also provides an extra set of eyes for when a coach or trainer may miss a hit.


Myron N. Stephens, Sports Medicine Manager for Carolinas HealthCare System Blue Ridge said, “We are excited that Burke County Public Schools is invested in the health and safety of our student-athletes. The new InSite technology sensors located within the football helmets give our team of athletic trainers another tool to use. The sensors detect the collisions, not that a player has sustained a concussion, that occurs during practices and games. If the collision is of the 95 percent of that players position (i.e. QB, Linebacker, etc.) it notifies our team of athletic trainers with an alert. This can be helpful, especially if we were not able to witness the collision. We look forward to the upcoming football season and seeing what this information may give us in regard to the health and safety of our student-athletes.”


Here’s what the head coaches are saying about the new helmets:

·       Draughn High football coach Chris Powell:

“Overall, the kids love them. They love how they fit and that they are light weight. We do use our monitors in practice and as a coach I love it. I can evaluate the impacts after practices and then use that to teach kids better ways to tackle, block, etc. It is a great teaching tool.”

·       East Burke High football coach Mark Buffamoyer:

“East Burke started preparing this summer for impact monitoring. Our trainer, Sara Woods, has done a tremendous job in implementing the technology. Our trainer had our players set up in July and did a trial run. East Burke monitors our players every day we wear a helmet. I think that anything we can do to make our players safe in a contact sport will only help enhance the game. Players continue to play as they always have. We tell them the commitment that East Burke High School and Burke County Public Schools have toward their safety. I think the game is as safe as it has ever been - helmets, coaching methods, not using head as a lead point to contact, etc. We as coaches need to educate our players’ parents more about the safety measures that are in place. The preservation of our game depends on it.”

·       Freedom High football coach Luke Little:

I think they are a great asset to have and will keep the kids safer.  If we had enough training staff, they would be used a lot more effectively.  It is hard for one person to deal with injuries, keep up with the heat and humidity and monitor a sensor device.  To be used to the fullest, we need more training staff.”

·       Patton High football coach Jonathan Browning:

“I think it is a good thing to have another tool to evaluate the amount of contact our players have from day to day and on any particular play. I'm anxious to see the monitoring system in action this week during our scrimmages. All the feedback I have heard from parents has been positive. I think it is reassuring to them to have a system that alerts coaches and trainers to high impact collisions.” 


Putnam said, “Because of this innovative technology, our players can practice and play smarter. The overall goal is to reduce blows to the head and in turn lower the risk of concussions and brain damage. This will not eliminate concussions but will help us better manage them. I would like to thank our school board for their insight and willingness to allow our teams to take advantage of this latest technology.”