Some Players Dont Know
if They Have a Concussion"> Chris Kleisath, senior director of engineering at Sybase iAnywhere, explained that the product, called SQL Anywhere, has two components. "The first component is our embedded database, which is used on the laptops on the sidelines while the system is in use by the football teams. So when the helmets wirelessly transmit data back to the sidelines, that data is initially stored in the database," Kleisath said.Kleisath added that Simbex has used its database tools to develop a number of applications, including one that alerts team doctors to possible problems. "We have a pager that alerts me when we receive a high head acceleration," Brolinson said. "We set the pager at 98g [an impact of 98 times the force of gravity at the Earths surface]. We think thats a fairly significant head acceleration." Brolinson noted that if hes alerted to such a blow to the head of a player, then he watches the player for signs of a concussion. "We frequently find that players sometimes dont notice that they have a concussion," Brolinson said. "Most sports related concussions dont involve a loss of consciousness. This system will generally allow us to determine that the athlete has received a head blow that could result in a concussion." Brolinson said that so far the study of Virginia Techs football players has turned up some interesting and useful data, the most notable being that different positions apparently sustain different types of blows. "Linemen sustain frontal blows. Theyre usually low impact blows, but there are lots of them. Wide receivers receive fewer blows, but get higher blows when they happen. Linebackers sustain higher accelerations than linemen." Brolinson said that he thinks the data developed by the instrumented helmets may lead to changes in football equipment. "One of the things that may come out of this research, as we start to understand the blows, is position specific helmets. A lineman may need a different helmet from a wide receiver," he said. Brolinson said that hes planning to add wireless telemetry instrumentation to all helmets used by Virginia Tech football players as soon as he can. He is waiting for a large grant from the NIH (National Institutes of Health), which has provided major funding for the head injury studies, including the Virginia Tech football helmets. "The NIH has recognized that head injury in children is a national problem," Greenwald said, adding that the information being gathered using the football helmets is directly related to a number of other areas as well. Greenwald added that the technology is currently employed in hockey at the college and youth level, as well as in studies in equestrian sports, snowboarding, soccer, and in military applications. "The military is very interested in understanding injury to their soldiers either from direct impact or impact caused by IEDs," Greenwald said. He noted that his company is providing helmets with similar wireless telemetry to the military for use in the field. Click here to read how March Madness caused network security headaches. "The information that we can gather from the sports field is transferable to the car crash environment," Greenwald said, noting that until now, data on head injuries was difficult to come by, and not necessarily accurate in todays world. For example, the information in the car crash world is based on cadaver data from a long time ago, he said. Greenwald said that his company is looking to expand the use of telemetry in studying head injuries as a part of the overall research at Simbex. "We work with fall prevention in the elderly and exercise for the elderly, injury prevention in sports and prosthetics. Much of this work has been funded by the small business innovation research [SBIR] program at NIH," he said. Right now, though, the partnership between Simbex, Sybase, NIH and Virginia Tech is proving that it can have real and immediate benefits to the organizations and to the athletes who use the equipment. "It allows us to keep an eye on the player, and bring them to the sideline to see whats going on," Brolinson said. The result, he said, is that players can be treated for injuries immediately, when they need it the most. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, reviews and analysis on mobile and wireless computing.
While immediate local storage is critical for making sure that doctors are alerted when a player has a possible concussion, the work goes beyond that. "The second component is our database synchronization, MobiLink, which does data synchronization," Kleisath said. "After it captures the information of all the hits after the game, that information is then synchronized back to Simbex headquarters."