Measuring Athlete Head Smacks

Vaqueros football players at SBCC wear Triax force meter headbands to measure impacts to their heads.
Courtesy Photo

A smack to the head commonly occurs in basketball and football, and is a purposeful part of the game of soccer, but the effect on the brain has become a matter of worry to athletes, coaches, and parents. Santa Barbara City College, in conjunction with Cottage Hospital, has begun using an impact meter to calculate the force of head butts in its men’s and women’s soccer and basketball teams and in the men’s football team.

During practices and games, the teams will wear headbands containing a Triax Smart Impact Meter, which takes a “hit count” as well as uploading impact force information automatically to a “dashboard.” Coaches, trainers, and doctors can view the “dashboard” as it receives player information and get alerts if a student’s hits go beyond an ascertained threshold. “SBCC is the first college in California to implement a ‘hit count’ certified product for athletes,” said SBCC Athletic Director Ryan Byrne, “and also offers one of the most rigorous concussion management protocols in the country.”

The impact meter can monitor linear and rotational G-force impacts and, in conjunction with imaging data and cognitive function tests, can provide valuable information. Dr. Stephen Kaminski, director of Trauma Services at Cottage, will lead the collection of data and studies on the effects of these forces on the brain if a concussion occurs.

Student athletes will also receive information on head injuries, concussion, injury prevention, and baseline testing as part of the concussion management plan. They also are taught protocols on when athletes should be removed from and returned to the playing field after a hard head hit. “SBCC has a long-standing partnership with Cottage,” said SBCC President Lori Gaskin. “We are grateful to Cottage for its support in ensuring that these student athletes receive the best possible preventive attention during the intercollegiate athletics season as they pursue their academic goals.”


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