'Smartfoam' detects potential concussions in real time

Engineers from Brigham Young University have developed a 'smartfoam' capable of detecting a sport-caused concussion in real time.

Identifying players suffering from a concussion after a head injury is difficult on the field of play. In response, BYU researchers have developed a smartphone that replaces conventional helmet padding to detect a concussion as it happens. Led by BYU mechanical engineering PhD student Jake Merrell, researchers tested the nano-composit smartphone for accuracy using multiple concussion variables.

The smartphone measures acceleration, impact energy and velocity to measure severity and location of impact. These data factors are collected in real-time and sent wirelessly to the coach or trainers mobile device. In tests, the smartfoam was able to detect the presence of a concussion with 90 percent accuracy.

"The standard measurement systems on the market today directly measure the acceleration, but just measuring the acceleration is not enough and can even be erroneous," Merrell said. "Our XOnano smartfoam sensors measure much more than just acceleration, which we see as a vital key to better diagnose head injuries."