Study Finds Wearable Neck Sensor Could Predict Concussion Risk in Contact Sports

Sport TechieJune 24, 2022

Sensor-laden neck wearables may be more efficient at measuring and predicting concussions in contact sports, according to a new study published Thursday in Scientific Reports.

Without naming a specific brand of wearable, the research conducted by Michigan State professor Sepúlveda Alancastro and a doctoral student Henry Dsouza determined that neck devices which produced electrical energy when physically impacted or pressurized were able to more precisely quantify injuries such as whiplash on test dummies.

The study involved placing a patch sensor containing a film layer of thermoplastic material on the back of a dummy’s neck. Accelerator-based sensors and a gyroscope were also implanted in the dummy’s head. To simulate impact, the researchers lifted the dummy to a height of 24 inches and let go. On ground impact, an electrical signal was then able to measure the acceleration and velocity of the sudden head or neck movement, two critical ways concussions can be predicted.

In touting the study, the Scientific Reports article claimed that most concussion-predictive devices are placed in the helmet and can give false readings. However, a Q30 Innovations device known as the Q-Collar has been available in the U.S. market since September of 2021 after receiving FDA approval earlier that year for aiding “in the protection of the brain from the effects associated with repetitive sub-concussive head impacts.’’

The Q-Collar is designed to lightly compress the jugular veins to increase blood volume in the brain and limit unfettered movement around the skull. Studies showed that the Q-Collar did not prevent concussions, but did reduce impact.

According to Scientific Reports, almost 4 million concussions are reported annually from sports and recreational play and that the number is probably measurably higher considering 50% of concussions may go unreported.

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