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Volume 26 No. 204
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NFL Suspends Efforts To Track Hits To Head With Sensors

The NFL is suspending efforts to track potentially concussive hits using helmet and head sensors, ending for now a program the league expected might expand to all teams this coming season. The decision followed league-funded studies of Riddell helmet and X2 Biosystems mouth guard sensors. The NFL concluded that the compiled data was unreliable, underscoring the challenges the sport confronts trying to quantify when a hit should lead to a player being pulled from a game. The studies have not been published.

“The bottom line is the recordings of these sensors right now, the accuracy is suspect,” said Dr. Robert Cantu, an adviser to the NFL’s Head, Neck & Spine Committee, which managed the studies and the related sensor pilot program. “I think it is prudent to put it on the shelf.” The league began the pilot program with several teams in ‘13 and continued on a modest scale in ‘14. The sensors measure head hits and relay the information to sideline personnel equipped with smart devices. Those devices then report a metric measuring the velocity of the hit that is used to determine if a player, for health and safety reasons, should come off the field.

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