In football, collisions come with the territory. But a number released by the New York Times sheds new light on just how far helmet design has to go to help protect players.
A mouthguard with motion sensors developed at Stanford University shows that a common play for an offensive lineman is similar to crashing a car into a wall at 30 mph.
"And remember: that was 62 times in a single game. Hits of this magnitude can happen hundreds, if not thousands, of times to college and N.F.L. players during practices and games throughout their careers. The design of helmets — and even the safety design of automobiles — still has a long way to go to protect people from brain disease incurred from severe and not-so-severe hits to the head."
The cumulative effects of such hits are believed to increase the risk of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), the brain disease discovered by Dr. Bennet Omalu.
Stanford football players started wearing the mouthpieces in 2011. Motion sensors have been used in helmets before, but the mouthpieces relay more accurate measurements because unlike the helmet, it doesn't shift during a collision, according to Stanford's medicine center.