Enhancing Athlete Safety With Smart Mouthguards For Concussion Monitoring

Ministry of Sport

June 18, 2024

In the latest Ministry of Sport podcast, Lachlan Wills engaged in a fascinating discussion with Stirling Mortlock and Alex Chalmers about emerging technologies in sports. One crucial topic was the development and implementation of smart mouthguards designed to monitor and prevent concussions, a pressing issue in sports today.

Concussions have become a significant concern in various sports, prompting the need for innovative solutions to protect athletes. Mortlock, who has experienced multiple concussions during his rugby career, highlighted the importance of these advancements. “I personally believe in 3 to 5 years from now, every kid that plays contact sport will be wearing a smart mouthguard,” Mortlock stated. “It’s crucial for objectively quantifying brain health and ensuring the right time to stand down after a concussion.”

The smart mouthguards, developed by companies like Prevent Biometrics, are equipped with sensors that monitor impact forces to the head. This data is invaluable in assessing the severity of a hit and determining whether an athlete should be removed from play. The technology not only helps in immediate diagnosis but also aids in tracking the long-term health of athletes. “We’re working with Prevent, which is leading the world in this space. Their instrumented mouthguards are simple yet highly effective,” Mortlock explained. This innovation is a game-changer, providing real-time data that can significantly reduce the risks associated with undiagnosed concussions.

The potential applications of smart mouthguards extend beyond sports. Mortlock pointed out that concussion is a concern not just in rugby or football but also in less obvious sports like figure skating, where his daughter experienced concussions. “I think there will be a neurological passport that every kid that participates in contact sport will have, or potentially in sport in general,” he added. Chalmers echoed this sentiment, emphasizing the broader health implications. “The focus isn’t just on current players but also on how we help the youth now, to ensure future athletes are better protected and healthier,” he said. This proactive approach to athlete health can help prevent long-term injuries and foster a safer sporting environment.

The introduction of smart mouthguards is a significant advancement in the effort to tackle concussion-related issues in sports. By providing real-time data on impacts to the head, these devices enable better monitoring and management of athlete health, potentially saving lives and careers. As this technology becomes more widespread, it will play a vital role in making sports safer for all participants.

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