High tech protection coming to area prep football players

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It is that time of year: Back to school - and back to the football field for thousands of students across the Chicago area. The discussion over head injuries, their diagnosis and treatment remain a hot button issue.

The Rosemont-based Riddell has a testing lab focused on growing trends in helmet technology.

An ”Insite helmet” accounts for a players position and level of play. And four sensors in the helmet will initiate an alert. If an onfield hit is deemed above threshold, that alert is sent to a cell phone sized monitor carried by the trainers or coach and gives the players name, number, and the date and time the hit occurred.

Data can be synched to player management software and tracked throughout the season.

But what is a hit above threshold? For the last 10 years researchers at dozens of universities across the U.S. have used Riddell’s sideline response system to record two million impacts among all levels of play – youth, high school, college and pro - to determine a number based on a player’s experience.

At Bolingbrook High School this year, players and coaches are taking a proactive and high tech approach and using Ridell’s technology.

15 players are being outfitted with some of the latest in smart helmet technology. The outfitted helmets will be worn by select positions; nine on the varsity team, three on each of the lower levels.

The technology rolled out last year in limited quantities, this is the first full season a wide number of schools are getting their hands on them.

How to pay for the technology is the next big question.

Bolingbrook by-passed purchasing some other new equipment this year to get the sensors in their football budget. But not all schools will be able to do that. The hope is because of the safety aspect, insurance and someday maybe federal dollars or possibly other portions of a school budget might be able to pick up the tab so more schools can adopt the technology.

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