Hi-tech donation monitors head impact during football games

Last updated: July 23. 2014 5:29PM - 1464 Views
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Matt Mason, athletic director at Madison-Plains, shows the ShockBox helmet sensor, which the Golden Eagles received by way of a donation on Tuesday. The device sends a signal to a hand-held tablet device on the sidelines if a player sustains a hit hard enough to activate the sensor.
Matt Mason, athletic director at Madison-Plains, shows the ShockBox helmet sensor, which the Golden Eagles received by way of a donation on Tuesday. The device sends a signal to a hand-held tablet device on the sidelines if a player sustains a hit hard enough to activate the sensor.
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The quarterback shouts signals to his teammates so they know the play called. There’s another signal which will come from the heads of the Madison-Plains football players this season, and it will be sent to the sidelines.


Sending that signal will be the ShockBox impact indicator, a high-tech device which fits neatly into the helmet’s crown. Held there by fabric fastener, the device sends a signal to the team’s training staff if a player sustains a sharp enough blow to the head during a play.


Specifically, the signal will be sent to a tablet held by trainer John Gillespie, said Jason Hunt, head football coach at Madison-Plains, whose team’s helmets have been fitted with the devices. They were installed Tuesday, July 23.


Madison-Plains is the first high school in Ohio to use the devices, which cost $150 each, said Hunt. A donation from Mount Sterling alumnus, Stan Hanson, made the purchase possible.


Hunt said “the big hits,” such as those made on running backs or wide receivers, are obvious.


But, obviously, the coaching staff and training staff can’t see every player’s contact as a play unfolds. The offensive and defensive linemen could sustain hits which would be indicated by the ShockBox.


“It makes us proactive,” Hunt said. “It gives the training staff a way to monitor what’s going on there.”


Hanson purchased the devices after having seen a report on the devices, according to Hunt.


“He wanted to make a donation,” Hunt said. So Hanson donated $9,000 to make the fitting possible. Hunt said it is only through Hanson’s thoughtful donation the team will have them.


“The school wouldn’t have it without the donation,” he said.


Athletic director Matt Mason made a point to say the device “is not a concussion detector.”


It merely records the level of impact sustained by the helmet, he said.


“It means no stoppage of play,” Mason added.


It means that during a timeout, or end of period, the trainer can go to the player whose helmet reported the impact to his tablet and ask the player a few questions.


“It’s an extra level of precaution,” Mason said.


The players will have no contact with the devices. They will be charged and placed in the helmets by the trainer. The device holds a charge for a week. After a game, the trainer will remove the device from the helmet and place it on a charger. When it’s fully charged, it will be replaced in the helmet.


The ShockBox is the result of the meeting of two minds, Danny Crossman and Scott Clark. Crossman had 20 years experience in kinematics, the study of mechanics and motion.


Crossman developed a helmet sensor for the U.S. Marines. Clark is a “software guru” with three boys who coaches youth hockey. Together they developed the ShockBox, which they began full-time development in April of 2011. It is described on their website as, “a full long range wireless sensor connected to a smartphone and able to pair over 100 sensors to a single handset. “


ShockBox was released in October 2011 and first used in hockey helmets and eventually adopted at the professional level in the NHL.


Dean Shipley can be reached at (740) 852-1616, ext. 1617 or via Twitter @DeanAShipley.


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