Injuries are an inevitable part of playing sports, and many coaches have seen it happen time and time again. However, detecting injuries are difficult, especially concussions, which are the leading cause of brain injuries, sports-related deaths, and future brain damage. Our founder and CEO Tyrre Burks says that during his coaching days, he was worried about not knowing whether or not his players were injured, thus motivating him to create Player’s Health. Fortunately, others have followed suit and companies such as Windpact, Viconic Sporting, and SYNCTHINK have also created new technologies that will reduce and detect concussions and make the sports environment safer sports for many athletes.
Windpact: Helmet technology
Windpact is a company created by Shawn Springs, a former NFL cornerback, that specializes in helmet technology. Its Crash Cloud system, inspired by the Safety 1st Air Protect car seat that protected Springs’s children during a serious car crash, uses Wind Springs, Impact Vents, and Refresh Vents to absorb damage, disperse impact, and minimize damage experienced by the body. Windpact has partnered with Under Armour and Ohio State University and Springs hopes to continue “giving back to the game I love [and] by improving safety for the players who play now and for those who will play in the future.”
Viconic Sporting: Energy-absorbing shock pad
Viconic Sporting is a company in Metro Detroit that created an energy-absorbing shock pad using the automobile-impact protection technology of its parent company, The Oakwood Group. The pad is unique in that it is made of thermoplastic cones, allowing the pad to remain firm for normal gameplay while also becoming softer and absorbing high-energy impact. Most fields use infill, a mixture of rubber and sand, to reduce injuries, but infill has a tendency to move around during gameplay and can be problematic in areas with high traffic. However, shock pads have the advantage of providing overall protection. As Joel Carmier, Viconic’s Director of Development and Engineering, says, “Regardless of what happens with the surface, you’ve got a high-efficiency energy-absorbing layer that’s always there.”
SYNCTHINK: Tracking eye movements
SYNCTHINK is a neuro-technology company that developed EYE-SYNC, a tool that shows if the brain is functioning correctly by using a portable virtual reality (VR) headset to track an athletes’ eye movement. A red dot goes around in a circle and infrared cameras inside the VR make sure the eye is in sync with the dot. EYE-SYNC, which is FDA-cleared and based on 10 years of clinical research, delivers a reliable diagnosis in less than one minute and can be used immediately after a game. It has been integrated into the Stanford football team since 2015 and hopes to bring objective measurement of brain health to sports medicine.
With new technology being created each day, the development of sports medicine and the safety of athletes are slowly getting better. Coaches and healthcare providers can combine these newfound discoveries with current programs such as Heads Up to provide players a comprehensive, multi-faceted approach to treating and preventing injuries and concussions in high contact sports. We at Player’s Health hope that this trend continues and that athletes can do what they love safely and with peace of mind.