Fodemski's solution would mitigate damage to the brain by firing the airbags when the brain is about to hit the inside of the skull. The company says that its airbags would provide inward force, serving to nudge the brain back to neutral sooner, rather than having to wait for eight or 10 more collisions while the brain moves back and forth. "All leading theories say that the axons -- the wires between the neurons -- are tearing," Fodemski said. "In some cases, the axons can regenerate or repair. In some cases, they can't. But eventually, you exhaust the brain's capacity to repair the neuro-pathways."
A test recording of the system in operation shows which bags are opening and closing (on left of screen) and which transducers are being actuated (right side). Upper right displays the execution of assembly language. (Source: Concussion Mitigation Technologies LLC)
Fodemski's idea builds on earlier work done at Virginia Tech and at other universities, where engineers fitted helmets with accelerometers and associated electronics to monitor impact on players. The smart helmets showed that some particularly hard hits resulted in accelerations of 100 Gs or more to the head.
Fodemski said he doesn't yet know what his football helmets will cost, but it's believed that they could run several times as much as today's helmets, which often cost between $175 and $300. Concussion Mitigation Technologies also hopes to place the technology in other sports, such as hockey, baseball, and skiing, as well as in the military. Initial prototypes for football are expected to be ready in about six months. "It's time to start thinking bigger about this issue," Fodemski said. "We're talking about the brain, which is an organ that can't be replaced."
I see, cartridge inflators with a fresh one for each use of the helmet. My guess is that these will not be long lasting in use, and that they will be expensive enough to never get down to high school football teams. I can see running out of the very expensive cartidges being a common happening. Then there would be less safety than with a current helmet.
Whaty they need to develope now is one that uses compressed air, like fromn a bike pump. The current crop of bike pumps are quite small and very effective. Also, they are "cool".
I've had the opportunity to meet football players at the pro and college level, Bob, and I agree completely. Weight training has made them stronger, and pro scouts now also look for large lineman (6'-6" and above) who can carry an amazing amount of weight. It's scary to think of the wallop that a fast-moving 6'-6" 320-lb lineman can deliver to the head.
Good question, William K. The helmet will still be usable. The plan is for each helmet to have a removable C02 cartridge. The CO2 inflates the bags. One hit depletes the cartridge. More cartridges would be kept on the sidelines and would be inserted during the games.
Yes Jack, that's exactly what we are kicking around. It would help to reduce the brain sloshing if the cushioning of the helmet padding had no rebound - like a air bag. I'm thinking now that this is the approach this idea is using, from the empirical stand point.
I'm wondering if this addresses the problem. Is it the actual blow to the head that is real cause of concussion injuries? If so, this might be a solution. However, if it is the brain "sloshing" around inside the skull, this seem to be like putting the air bag on the outside of your car.
Here is a question that may have been addressed, but it goes along with automotive airbags also: "what happens after?" The little bubbles bust and save the brain, but does the system reset? Or is it like the airbag system in a car, where the presumption is that the car will be scrapped after any collision that makes the bags fire. Possiblythe helmet delivers a mesage that it is used, but probably not. Will it protect well enough next time?
Here is a possibility, Charles. The air bag inflates and starts the head moving away from the blow and the helmet moving into the blow before the full force of the blow is delivered. But this action might have to be more violent than the blow itself in order to work quick enough. Just some food for thought.
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