Local high school using high-tech mouthguard to detect early signs of concussion

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Local high school using high-tech mouthguard on the field.

For anyone who has ever played a sport, you know it used to be when you had your "bell rung" you would shake it off and "get back out there."

No so much anymore.

St. Thomas High School is going high-tech to keep concussions from going undiagnosed on the field.

"It really quantifies what's going on in these hits," athletic director Chris Valdez said. "And it helps us understand better what's really going on."

The school's athletic trainer suggested the football team use the Vector mouthguards.

"Having basically another set of eyes. This being a computer, letting me know that hey, so-and-so got hit really hard," Valez said.

The "smart" mouthguards are equipped with an accelerometer and gyroscope.

TJ Lynch, with i1 Biometrics, says the technology sends real-time data to sideline computers that coaches can monitor. The technology also flags the staff when a player needs to be benched and examined for a concussion.

"At 90 G-Force, that's when we want to alert the trainer that this player took a pretty significant hit," Lynch said.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, 33 percent of high school athletes report two or more concussions every year. While the first hard hit might not knockout a player, it's the second and third head impact that doctors say can cause permanent brain damage. In 2000, Governor Perry signed the state's youth and sports concussion safety law.

"Concussions are fairly prevalent. I think more so than we ever realized before," said Dr. Summer Ott, with Memorial Hermann IRONMAN Sports Medicine Concussion Program.

On the sidelines, parents say the $200 Vector mouthguard is an investment in their child's health.

"With all the news headlines going on about concussions and what that can do later on in life to your son's brain, we figured why not make the investment," James Brolan said.

Ott says don't rely only on the mouthguard technology. Keep an eye on your child and look for headaches, confusion or nausea. If your player takes a hard hit, get them checked out by a doctor.

"It's really important as a parent, if you're going to go and spend money on this, that you really make sure you understand or get with a concussion specialist that might have more information about it," Ott added.

Related Topics:
healthsportsconcussionhigh school footballfootballHouston
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