AFL Becomes First Pro Sports League to Require Helmet Sensors - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

AFL Becomes First Pro Sports League to Require Helmet Sensors


CHICAGO – The Arena Football League (AFL), in partnership with Brain Sentry, today became the first professional sports league to require helmet-mounted sensors. The announcement was made by AFL Commissioner Jerry B. Kurz at the 64th annual meeting of the National Athletic Trainers’ Association.

Trainers are called upon to support coaches in looking for players who need to be evaluated for any type of injury. The Brain Sentry Impact Counter™, an innovative helmet-mounted device that alerts when an athlete suffers an unusually rapid acceleration of the head, has been selected by the AFL to assist its coaches and trainers to identify players who should be assessed for concussion.

“Safety of our players is a priority,” Kurz said. “Over the past two seasons the AFL has worked with a world-class brain injury task force to develop League-wide protocols for identification of players who need to be assessed for possible concussions. We had been looking at sensor technology for several years, but until we saw the Brain Sentry Impact Counter and tested it, we did not feel there was a solution that was practical and deployable for the AFL. This head impact sensor technology is clearly part of the solution.”

Brain Sentry Impact Counter’s patent-pending technology includes a micro-electromechanical, tri-axial accelerometer capable of measuring acceleration from any direction. Helmets provide varying levels of impact protection depending on the direction of the hit.  Brain Sentry’s proprietary, DAS™ (Directionally Adaptive Sensing) provides a consistent alert level – independent of hit direction or helmet type.

“For me personally, I think the era of ‘dumb helmets’, in which you have no clue how many impacts that brain inside that helmet has sustained, is quickly coming to an end,” said neurosurgeon Julian Bailes, who has served as a nuerological consultant to the NCAA and NFL Players’ Association, in addition to chairing the Clinical Best Practices Sub-Committee on the AFL Brain Injury Task Force. “I think sensors are a big part of the solution for football.”

Brain Sentry sensors are made in the U.S. and easily affix to the outside back of the helmet.  The product senses head impact and acceleration and serves as an early warning for possible brain injury. The technology does not test for or track concussions.

“Our compact sensor system accurately measures impact forces and empowers coaches and trainers to work effectively with players after they suffer a blow to the head,” said Greg Merril, co-founder and CEO of Brain Sentry. “Too many catastrophic brain injuries are the result of second impacts to already concussed athletes. It’s critically important to easily obtain as much information as possible. With our light, one-ounce, waterproof, low-maintenance product, you don't even have to remember to turn it on or off.”

According to research published in The American Journal of Sports Medicine, 39 percent of the high school and collegiate football players who suffered catastrophic head injuries were found to have been playing with concussion symptoms at the time of the catastrophic event. Under-reporting of concussions is a significant problem that sensors can help address.

Brain Sentry’s initial focus is to provide sensors for the three most popular helmeted contact sports: football, lacrosse, and hockey. Brain Sentry is also developing sensors for soccer, biking, alpine, and other high risk activities.

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