To track and assess potential concussions, developer joins mouthguard, sensors, analytics

A coach, player or trainer receives an alert when a significant impact occurs.

Although there’s a lot more awareness of the long term risk concussions pose, they continue to be a problem, particularly in high school sports that often lack the resources of college teams.  The CDC has estimated that as many as 3.8 million concussions occur each year. Worse, as many as half go unreported. Cue concussion sensor developers.

One DreamItHealth company attempting to carve a niche in tracking head impacts that could indicate a concussion is Gray Matter Technologies, which developed a mouthguard sensor. To avoid confusion with the fictional company on the TV series Breaking Bad, I suggest searching for its url:

The sensor in its mouthguards transmits impact data through Bluetooth Low Energy to a mobile device. An app collects and sends data to a cloud based database where the data is compared with impact data stored in the cloud. A coach, player or trainer receives an alert when a significant impact occurs. The company, led by co-founder and CEO Tanner Avery, claims the company is unique in the way it integrates performance data. It also has a charging case.

Concussion sensors have gained acceptance, particularly in college sports. Earlier this year ESPN reported that at least 20 college teams use them in football helmets. That’s typically where impact sensors are used — helmets. But by freeing the sensors from a helmet, the developers hope to make them applicable in more contact sports, such as soccer, lacrosse, rugby, field hockey and ice hockey, and wrestling.

Although mouthguards embedded with sensors are a little more uncommon,the company does have competition. Another company using impact sensors in mouthguards — Force Impact Technologies is one example. A couple of engineers with the Cleveland Clinic’s Spine Research Laboratory   — Adam Bartsch, whose experience includes automotive crash testing, and Sergey Samorezov — developed a prototype for an “Intelligent Mouthguard,” which includes nine sensors and is currently being used in clinical trials.

Its management team comes from the University of Texas at Austin with a mix of mechanical engineering and electrical engineering experience.

Gray Matter plans to do field testing among athletes in the first quarter of 2016. Its two-pronged business model involves selling it to college teams. It will also make it available through online sales and, eventually, retail distribution.

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Photo: Bigstock “American Football Players”