How big a head hit? Now you’ll know
But medical people say the device is not a good way to look for a concussion
Last Updated: February 12, 2012 10:09pm
A London company is marketing a device it says will help parents determine whether their children absorbed a blow while playing contact sports that could cause a concussion.Jim Blumson, president of Impact-Alert Sport Systems, launched the device in December after three years of development, research and testing.
The device doesn’t indicate whether your child has a concussion, and isn’t meant to substitute for medical diagnosis, he said.
But it does measure the impact of the hit and warns coaches and trainers to check for concussion symptoms, said Blumson, who coaches a minor hockey team in London.
So far the device has been used in hockey, football and alpine sports.
“After seeing the hit, now you will know when it’s significant. And you can start looking at the symptoms. Coaches and trainers will be able to make better decisions as to putting players back on after taking big hits,” Blumson said.
But Dr. Paul Echlin, a London sports medicine specialist, said these types of devices gives parents and players a false sense of security, and are not a substitute for professional diagnosis.
“A concussion is a serious brain injury. There is no mild, moderate or severe,” Echlin said.
“Parents need to realize what the real problem is — that if they even suspect a brain injury has occurred, they should see a specialist. They shouldn’t depend on a device because there is none that have great validity at this time.”
Lisa Fisher, director of primary care at the Fowler Kennedy Sports Medicine Clinic, agrees, saying there’s not enough evidence to validate such a device.
“My concern is that people may ignore symptoms of concussions if the force recorded is too low,” she said.
“One of the challenges with kids is delayed onset of symptoms. A kid may take a hit and feel fine, but later that night go home with headaches, dizziness and vomiting.”
Yet the Brain Injury Association of Canada — an organization dedicated to the prevention of brain injury and improving the quality of life for Canadians with brain injury — endorses the impact-measuring device on its website.
“It’s one more tool to create awareness,” executive director Harry Zarins said.
“The device will check to see if there is a possibility of a concussion. The final diagnosis is always left in the hands of the doctor.”
Concussions are a hot-button issue in hockey, from the National Hockey League to minor hockey, because of the growing number of players who’ve been sidelined.
For skeptics, Blumson said the best thing about the device is it allows parents and coaches to measure the force of contact, something they weren’t able to do in the past.
“We have to have some way of knowing that the impact our child just took is significant,” Blumson said.
“This is one part of many parts. This in conjunction with symptoms, and better helmets down the road, are going to drive protection in sport to a much higher level than we’ve had in the past.”
The device is available online through the Impact-Alert website and sells for $39.95.
Blumson said Impact-Alert is in talks with major retailers, and expects to have the product on store shelves by the fall.
The company has sold thousands of devices and expects business to grow in the coming year, he said.
“We have seen phenomenal interest in both Canada and the US. Every major sports retailer wants a piece of this.”
In March, Blumson plans on launching similar devices for baseball, lacrosse, soccer and cycling.
For more information visit http://www.impact-alert.com/
HOW THE SENSOR WORKS
The four-centimetre disc-shaped device sticks to the back of the helmet.
Two built-in sensor tubes measure the intensity based on body and head mass.
One sensor will turn red if the hit is in the medium-risk category, two will turn red if the hit is in the high-risk category.
Any hit medium and up is a possible concussion