Electronic mouth guards in AFL aid science

Clubs that use the wearable technology aid sport science data collection.

Learn how everyday technology can help our understanding of the body and injuries in this resource for Year 7, 8, 9 and 10 Biology, Physics and STEM students.

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An AFL match between Essendon and Adelaide Football Clubs. Essendon trialled the Nexus A9 mouth guards in 2019. Credit: Wikimedia commons.

New wearable technology, such as electronic mouth guards, being trialled in AFL and other sports will provide data for researchers to better understand the minute causes of concussion.

The comprehensive data about speed and acceleration of players upon impact will be collected for use in long-term studies.

The electronic technology isn’t now able help diagnose concussions, but it is yielding data essential for understanding underlying causes of impacts to the head.

This data could, in turn, inform the science about concussions to help refine concussion regulations and training practises.

“At this stage, all we know is the aftermath of the concussion,” says Alan Pearce, a neuroscientist and concussion researcher at La Trobe University, Melbourne.

“What we’re trying to do is find out what is happening in our respective environments.”

“So, in particular with concussion, what are these sports generating in terms of impacts to the brain?”

“Because we see the end result and we don’t really understand what is contributing, potentially, to that end result.”

Electronic sensors such as the Nexus A9 and Prevent Biometrics mouth guards, and PROTXX behind-ear sensors use accelerometry – a measurement of acceleration and deceleration – to understand the nature and force of impacts in AFL and other sports.

“What we had [so far] found out from the accelerometry is that rotational impacts create more likelihood of a concussion than linear impact,” says Pearce.

“So, if someone comes in from the side and you see their head rapidly turn left or right during the impact, then they’re more likely to get a concussion.”

The data will be collected from both professional clubs and amateur clubs across a season to get a broader representation of concussions, but further studies will be necessary to understand impacts to women.

Previously, only small-scale studies mainly focused on men have been conducted.

This article is republished from Cosmos. Read the original article.

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Years: 7, 8, 9, 10

Topics:

Biological Sciences – The Body

Physical Sciences – Forces

Additional: Careers, Technology.

Concepts (South Australia):

Biological Sciences – Form and Function

Physical Sciences – Forces and Motion