Concussions have become an epidemic in minor hockey in Canada and the United States.
“Twenty-five per cent of junior hockey players on two unnamed teams suffered concussions last year, according to an Ontario study looking at brain injuries.
The report comes after independent physicians followed the two junior clubs during the 2009-10 regular season, where they observed 17 players suffer a total of 21 concussions in 52 games.”
The helmets that are on the market now are to prevent subdural and epidural hematomas, blind eyes, and lacerations but not concussions.
One of the major problems occurs when a player takes or receives a big hit and may receive a minor concussion. The player doesn’t loose consciousness but may feel minor symptoms such as dizziness, “seeing stars”, reduced playing ability, and slurred speech. This can become a major problem when the player returns to the ice or continues to play in this state, as the may it they’re lesser form be hit again more violently causing a major concussion. The player’s decision to return to the ice is almost always based social pressures to “continue to play”. Coaches and players who do not have to proper knowledge or training pressure the ill player to continue as if normal unknowingly that the player is ill. The affected individuals in these scenarios who are in an ill state are incapable of making the correct decision.
The goal of this project is to remove the social pressures that are embedded in the sport and promote concussion awareness.
The concussion helmet is designed with sensors that measure the impact that the head has taken. The helmet works the same way the brain rattles inside of the skull when a concussion occurs. As the skull rattles inside of the helmet the sensors send data to a computer inside the helmet. It the force is great enough an actuator (LED) lights up to signify to the player’s social surroundings. When the player returns to the bench they may be looked over by a coach or trainer or medical staff. If a severe play occurs and the red light is activated on the helmet play may stop and the play would leave the ice for medical treatment.
With further research, better technology and a growth in awareness a helmet like this could become part of the standardized safety equipment in hockey. If an idea or product like this were to be standardized it would raise social awareness worldwide.
This prototype I used; a retired Bauer Hockey helmet, 6 LEDs, 1 force sensor (homemade: conductive fabric, velostat), 2 AAA Batteries, 1 Lilypad Arduino, Wire.
The code I used: