Parents at Virginia School want sensors on helmets, school says no


by Jeff Fisher

Brain Sentry Impact Counter Plus as shown on BrainSentry.com

Brain Sentry Impact Counter Plus as shown on BrainSentry.com

Interesting story out of Virginia concerning the placement of senors on the helmets of football players at Loudoun Valley High School.

A group of parents want their children to play with impact counter sensors, provided free by Brain Sentry, attached to their helmets that reportedly will identify players who should be evaluated for concussions.  The Washington Post and other media outlets are reporting that the sensor, which weighs less than an ounce, is affixed to the back of the helmet and blinks when a hard hit is recorded.  The stories go on to say that the sensors also count the smaller hits.

Media reports indicate there are several reasons why Loudoun Valley school officials have said no to the use of the device, including it could void the helmet’s warranty.  Brain Sentry’s Impact County Plus has not been approved by the Virginia High School League, any helmet manufacturers or national sanctioning body.

The sensor costs $75, according to Brain Sentry’s website and can be used for football, hockey and lacrosse.  The device is also listed on the site as the “Official Sensor of the Arena Football League”.

Below is what is posted on the company’s website about how the device works.

HOW IT WORKS:

  • When the helmet is not in use the sensor will automatically enter a sleep mode.  When it detects motion it becomes active and a green LED light will blink.
  • In the event of a big acceleration of the head, a bright red LED will turn on and blink once every 3 seconds.
  • Once the sensor flashes a red light, the player should be taken off the field and examined using the team’s protocol for concussion assessment for the possibility of a head injury prior to returning to play.
  • If the player is not injured, the coach or other designated adult simply resets the sensor to turn off the blinking red light.  The player’s helmet should be checked for proper fit and the player can return to the game.  It’s that simple.
  • The memory in the sensor keeps track of impacts and time between impacts.  If, within 30 days of the first alert, a second big impact is detected, the red light will flash quickly twice every 3 seconds.

NOTE:  The sensor is not a brain injury detector.  No sensor can diagnose a concussion.  The sensor is an impact detector that is carefully calibrated to alert when the brain may have been subjected to a force high enough that results in injury.

The Washington Post story states that on Thursday about 30 players began practicing with the sensors, but about 15 minutes into drills with the players wearing their helmets, school officials told coaches that those kids couldn’t practice while wearing the device.

Former Washington Redskin Charles Mann is part of Brain Sentry’s board.

About the Author

Jeff Fisher
Jeff is an award-winning journalist and expert in the field of high school sports, underscored with his appearance on CNBC in 2010 to talk about the big business of high school football in America. Jeff turned to his passion for high school football into an entrepreneurial venture called High School Football America, a digital media company focused on producing original high school sports content for radio, television and the internet. Jeff is co-founder and editor-in-chief of High School Football America, which is a media partner with USA TODAY High School Sports.