An Unexpected Solution For Preventing Concussions In Kid Athletes: Their Uniforms

More than half a million concussions in youth go unreported

When a young athlete has difficulty standing up, walking, or talking after a “hit” with another athlete, it’s easy to suspect a concussion. Often, however, such immediate symptoms don’t occur. A recent study in the journal Pediatrics suggested that more than half a million concussions in youth go unreported—and all too often, young athletes are asked to provide a self-evaluation mere seconds after a traumatic brain injury.

Yet in most cases, the outward signs of concussion are subtle and easy to miss. When one occurs a few feet from the ball, that concussion can easily go unnoticed. The NFL and now the larger collegiate football conferences include spotters and a physician whose primary role is to look out for the player’s safety.

This, however, leaves about 98 percent of players in high school, middle school, and all youth leagues without the benefit of these safety measures. Between 1.1 million and 1.9 million concussions occur in children each year. That is far greater than the number of children with concussions reported by emergency departments; their records indicate the number ranges between 115,000 and 167,000.

[quote position="right" is_quote="true"]In most cases the outward signs of concussion are subtle and easy to miss. When it occurs a few feet from the [play], it can go unnoticed.[/quote]

Given the desire of the players to compete and not to disappoint their teammates as well as lack of awareness of the early symptoms of concussion and the importance of avoiding a second concussive injury, many athletes return to playing after having experienced a concussion.

But the swelling that follows a concussion reduces the brain’s ability to absorb a second impact. In addition, concussion often results in impaired peripheral vision and coordination, increasing the likelihood of a second impact.

Asking the person who has been concussed to self-diagnose makes little sense. As measurement experts and science professors at Michigan State University, we sought to come up with a solution to unreported concussions.

Heading off an often debilitating diagnosis

Having kids who participated in youth, high school, and college sports, our research team recognized the need for a simple device that could detect if a player had experienced a blow to the head. Unlike most parents, we collectively have over 50 years of experience in experimental measurement science.

We sought to detect the magnitude and location of the head impact in order to provide information for parents, coaches, and health care providers as an aid in determining if a concussion has taken place. So we set out to design a device that could be used as an extension of the clinical evaluation by showing the location and magnitude of a head impact.

Given that impact sensing is outside our immediate field of expertise—which involves ultrafast lasers and single layers of molecules—we partnered with Michigan State University’s football and soccer athletic trainers and players to evaluate our initial prototypes. From each meeting and trial, we learned what works best, and what simply does not work.

Initially, we thought of using accelerometers similar to those on smart phones that can sense abrupt changes in direction; however, our experience with sometimes finicky high-tech gadgets and continuously updating operating systems forced us to seek a more reliable platform.

Image via Max Andrews (cc)

We focused on the use of a recording media that would respond to localized pressure, and then developed a sensor design that could be calibrated so that the measurements would accurately reflect how severe a head impact is. Finally, we tested multiple headbands and skullcaps to come up with a design that could be implemented as part of a uniform and would be comfortable to wear.

The help we received from Michigan State Head Athletic Trainer Dr. Sally Nogle and neurologist Dr. David Kaufman was critically important to capturing the essence of the problems encountered in the field.

One of the biggest problems in keeping players safe is that it is hard to keep track of all the players. Therefore, it is important to have a rapid on-site sensor that records the magnitude and location of a head impact. Nogle and Kaufman stressed that only a trained professional can diagnose a concussion. But knowing the location and severity of the impact can help them determine if a player should be kept from returning to the field before a concussion protocol.

The process took 18 months, 200 failed prototypes and several broken accelerometers, which are used for calibrating the magnitude of impact. Ultimately, our team arrived at a headband or cap design that contains four sensor strips that were used by several football and men’s and women’s soccer players during the spring 2016 season. The sensor strips have four to six sensors each that are easy to read.

Our sensors measure force, which, according to Newton’s second law, equals mass times acceleration. Therefore, unlike accelerometers that are sensitive to motion, our sensors take into account mass and are sensitive to force. In practical terms, this means our sensors are much less likely to indicate false impacts.

[quote position="left" is_quote="true"]One of the biggest problems in keeping players safe is that it is hard to keep track of all the players.[/quote]

When impacted, the sensors show an image that can be understood intuitively: no image for a weak impact, a circle for moderate impact or a circle with a star inside for a severe impact. These sensors have no electronic components, so there is no need to interface them with a phone or computer.

We can’t yet disclose all the technology that in the patent-pending sensor strips, which we intend to further develop and sell through a company we’ve formed. The sensor strips are calibrated using a testing system developed to simulate the actual size, shape and weight of a human head attached to a flexible neck.

In addition, industrial electronic accelerometers capable of taking impacts are five to 10 times greater than those associated with concussion are used to calibrate the design parameters of the sensor strips.

We would like to see that their affordable sensors make youth sports safer and minimize the risk of repeated concussive injuries. They would like to know that the next time a soccer player wants to get up and return to the playing field, there will be a way to let coaches, trainers and/or parents know the location and severity of a head impact. This information can help in making a better-informed decision regarding the possibility of concussion.

Ultimately, the hope is to put information in the hands of professionals, so that more severe traumatic brain injuries can be avoided.


"Seventy percent of the Earth is covered with water, now you camp on it!" proudly declares Smithfly on the website for its new camping boat — the Shoal Tent.

Why have we waited so long for camping equipment that actually lets us sleep on the water? Because it's an awful idea, that's why.

"The world is your waterbed," Smithfly says on its site. But the big difference is that no one has ever had to worry about falling asleep and then drowning on their waterbed.

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While it is possible that one could wade into the water, unzip the tent, have a pleasant slumber, and wake up in the morning feeling safe and refreshed, there are countless things that could go terribly wrong.

The tent could float down the river and you wake up in the middle of nowhere.

You could have to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night.

This guy.

It could spring a leak and you could drown while wrapped up in eight feet of heavy nylon.

A strong current could tip the tent-boat over.

There isn't any way to steer the darn thing.

This guy.

Mashable shared a charming video of the tent on Twitter and it was greeted with a chorus of people sharing the many ways one could die while staying the night in the Shoal Tent.

Oh yeah, it's expensive, too.

Even though the general public seems to think the Shoal Tent is a terrible idea, according to the Smithfly's website, it's currently sold out due to "popular demand" and it will be "available in 6-8 weeks." Oh, and did we mention it costs $1,999?

via zoezimmm / Imgur

There are few more perniciously dangerous conspiracy theories being shared online than the idea that vaccines cause autism.

This has led to a decline in Americans vaccinating their children, resulting in a massive increase in measles. This year has already seen over 1,200 cases of measles, a disease that was eradicated in the U.S. nearly 20 years ago.

A 2015 Pew Research study found that 83% of Americans think the measles vaccine is safe, while 9% think it's not. Another 7% are not sure. But when you look at the polls that include parents of minors, the numbers get worse, 13% believe that the measles vaccine is unsafe.

There is zero truth to the idea that vaccines cause autism. In fact, a recent study of over 650,000 children found there was no link whatsoever.

RELATED: A new study of over 650,000 children finds — once again — that vaccines don't cause autism

A great example of the lack of critical thinking shown by anti-vaxxers was a recent exchange on Facebook shared to Imgur by zoezimmm.

A parent named Kenleigh at a school in New Mexico shared a photo of a sign at reads: "Children will not be enrolled unless an immunization record is presented and immunizations are up-to-date."

This angered a Facebook user who went on a senseless tirade against vaccinations.

"That's fine, I'll just homeschool my kids," she wrote. At least they won't have to worry about getting shot up in school or being bullied, or being beat up / raped by the teachers!"

To defend her anti-vaccination argument, she used a factually incorrect claim that Amish people don't vaccinate their children. She also incorrectly claimed that the MMR vaccine is ineffective and used anecdotal evidence from her and her father to claim that vaccinations are unnecessary.

She also argued that "every human in the world is entitled to their own opinion." Which is true, but doesn't mean that wildly incorrect assumptions about health should be tolerated.

She concluded her argument with a point that proves she doesn't care about facts: "It doesn't matter what you say is not going to change my mind."

RELATED: 12 medical professionals shared their most memorable anti-vaxxer stories and you won't stop face-palming

While the anti-vaxxer was incorrect in her points, it must also be pointed out that some of the people who argued with her on Facebook were rude. That should never be tolerated in this type of discourse, but unfortunately, that's the world of social media.

Here's the entire exchange:

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The post received a ton of responses on imgur. Here are just a few:

"'In my opinion...' 'I believe...' That's not how facts work."

"You're entitled to your opinion. And everyone else is entitled to call you a dumbass."

"'What I do with my children is no concern to you at all.' Most of the time, true. When your kid might give mine polio, not true."

"If my child can't bring peanut butter, your child shouldn't bring preventable diseases."

It's important to call out people who spread dangerous views, especially how they pertain to health, on social media. But people should do so with respect and civility.


He photographed Nazi atrocities and buried the negatives. The unearthed images are unforgettable.

He risked his life to leave a "historical record of our martyrdom."

via Yad Vashem and Archive of Modern Conflict, 2007

In September 1939, the Nazis invaded Poland. By April 1940, the gates closed on the Lodz Ghetto, the second largest in the country after Warsaw.

Throughout the war, over 210,000 people would be imprisoned in Lodz.

Among those held captive was Henryk Ross. He was a Jewish sports photographer before the Nazi invasion and worked for the the ghetto's Department of Statistics during the war. As part of his official job, he took identification photos of the prisoners and propaganda shots of Lodz' textile and leather factories.

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via Imgur

Every few years there's something that goes mega viral because people can't decide what it is.

There was the famous "is it blue and black, or white and gold" dress?

There was the audio recording that said either "yanny" or "Laurel."

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Rochester NY Airport Security passing insulting notes to travelers caught on tape

Neil Strassner was just passing through airport security, something he does on a weekly basis as part of his job. That's when a contract airport security employee handed him a small piece of folded cardboard. Strassner, 40, took the paper and continued on his way. He only paused when he heard the security employee shouting back at him, "You going to open the note?"

When he unfolded the small piece of paper, Strassner was greeted with an unprompted insult. "You ugly!!!"

According to Strassner, and in newly released CCTV of the incident, the woman who handed him the note began laughing loudly.

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