First Coast Connect
2:24 pm
Tue February 4, 2014

Jacksonville Company Designs Helmet To Detect And Prevent Concussions

The NFL season is over, but the concern over sports concussions is as alive as ever.

It’s a health issue that is dogging not just the NFL, but youth sports as well, with a growing number of parents saying they won’t allow their sons to play football or other high-contact sports.

Against this background, a local firm has developed new technology that could reduce the impact of concussions.

Rick Johnson and Jim Ryan of Sports Technologies LLC and Dr. Jerry Merkel of the University of North Florida's College of Computing, Engineering and Construction joined Melissa Ross to discuss the "Concussion Detection and Reduction Helmet System."

The helmet technology developed by Sports Technologies LLC goes beyond just the abatement of concussions, but also provides medical sensors that avail information about the wearer in real-time.

This medical information, through telemetry, goes into a database for comparison of how the helmet wearer is progressing. It records alpha waves, blood pressure, EEG and EKG, hydration, and other factors.

"There's a tremendous effort right now to resolve this issue to protect our children and our professional athletes," said Johnson. "This helmet is designed to do all it can to abate the problem and to look at the vital signs and all the medical information within the player."

A diagram of Sports Technologies LLC's "Concussion Detection and Reduction Helmet System."
A diagram of Sports Technologies LLC's "Concussion Detection and Reduction Helmet System."
Credit Sports Technologies LLC

The technology is not only intended for athletic applications. The U.S. Department of Defense recently put out a declaration that they are seeking ways to prevent concussions.

"The construction industry, the industrial market, emergency responders, and the medical research," said Johnson, listing the industries where the helmets could be used.

He added that the data collected by the helmet could provide insight for those researching neurological conditions including Parkinson's disease and depression.

According to Ryan, the timeline for getting the helmet on the market will depend on how long it takes the company to secure funding.

Johnson said they have already met with the NFL and they have a meeting scheduled with officials in Washington.

You can follow Melissa Ross on Twitter @MelissainJax.

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