Using Smart Mouthguards to Track Head Impacts

Concussion experts at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia are using special mouthguards to track how repeated head impacts affect young athletes. Learn how they work.


Using Smart Mouthguards to Track Head Impacts

Kristy B. Arbogast, PhD: Another very important issue that we have been focused on is trying to understand repetitive head impacts. We've started a research program, studying soccer heading in adolescents, and we're trying to understand how a series of soccer headers affects the function of their brain. We think we have an opportunity to understand how to reduce the number of times a child may impact their head or the severity that they may impact their head with.

So one of the ways we're learning about the biomechanics or the engineering of concussion is through instrumented mouth guards. So these are regular mouth guards, but in it is embedded electronics. And what that electronics tells us is how fast their head is moving and in what direction. That allows us to understand what might be going on in the brain.

We can use computer models to look inside the brain to tell us if the head moves in this way, the neurons of the brain stretch, the blood vessels of the brain stretch, in this particular way that might end up causing damage. This technology is very similar to what's being implemented right now in the NFL. I serve as a consultant for the NFL and the NFL Players Association to help them understand the scenarios in which concussions happen in professional football.

Two and a half million kids sustaining a concussion every year -- 30% going on to long-term challenges -- that's a big number and we really have an opportunity to impact a large number of children, large number of families.

Topics Covered: Concussion

Related Centers and Programs: Minds Matter Concussion Program

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