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Dr. Jan Akervall, M.D., Ph.D.
March 17, 2020

What You Need to Know About Brain Injuries and Concussions in Sports

Man holding head in pain

There are 4 million concussions in sports every year and half of them are undiagnosed. Today there is no way to assess if an athlete has had a serious head impact; there has just not been any successful introduction of technologies to detect big or small hits.
Why is this important?

Wouldn’t I know if I get a concussion? To some extent yes, but to some extent no. If you get knocked out it’ll be clear, but most of the hits are not resulting in clinical symptoms of concussions. Research from Virginia Tech and others show that a high school football player on average gets 500 (!!!) hits to the head/season. These are hits over 10g (more than taking off in a rocket ship) and 10% are over 40g.

Symptoms of head injuries.

Chronic headaches change in mental status, difficulties keeping up with social and professional life, unemployment etc. are not uncommon long-term consequences of years of hits to the head. And medical consequences are a multi-billion-dollar problem for our health care systems.

What sports are affected?

This is not just a football problem; athletes in ice hockey, lacrosse, MMA, boxing even soccer and basketball are at risk. Soccer players get significant head impact from just heading the ball.

So, what’s the answer?

Helmets? Better mouthguards? Well, there are a lot of misconceptions are these issues. The American Society for Sports Medicine, the leading sports research organization, made a clear statement already in 2013 – Neither helmets nor mouthguards can protect you against concussions! Think about it – a concussion is the result of the brain slamming into the skull after a hit or after hitting the ground. A mouthguard or even a helmet can stop that violent motion.

The answer is in an increased awareness of what kind of head impact your child or yourself as an adult athlete suffer on a daily basis. Today, no one knows what has happened during practice or a game, but with better monitoring and data collection we will all know and can make smart decisions based on that. If you would knew  your child  received  repeated smaller but dangerous hits or larger and clearly dangerous hits over 40g on a daily basis, would you let them keep playing?

Research shows that every hit matters.

SISU Sense is built on the award winning SISU athletic mouth guard.  It fits extremely well and molds snugly  on the upper jaw which moves in the same way as the skull. Together with the National Science Foundation and a team of engineers from the University of Michigan we developed embedded electronics into the mouthguard that accurately measure g-forces to the head and reports that data real-time to your smart phone.

As a parent of a child that plays any sport where there are risks for head impact, you can be sure you know what happens on the field, even if you’re not there. As an athlete or coach, you can now base your actions instead of guessing or very subjective and imprecise clinical symptoms. SISU Sense is a smart mouth guard that combines great dental protection with superior comfort AND real-time reporting to your smart phone about small and big hits to the head.  That is good sense.

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