Sports Legacy Institute Advances Hit Count™ Initiative with Symposium
On October 25, 2012, over 30 concussion experts, sports governing bodies, and technology company representatives from around the country to gathered in Waltham, MA, for the Sports Legacy Institute Hit Count Symposium. The symposium was the first of several meetings to be facilitated by SLI as part of the Hit Count™ Initiative, which was launched with a white paper in February 2012.
Similar to the Pitch Count, SLI is exploring leading the development and of a Hit Count™ to limit the frequency of repetitive brain trauma and concussions. “If we don’t take action to count and limit hits to the head, we will live in the safest country in the world for a young boy to have an elbow, and the most dangerous country for him to have a brain,” said Nowinski, who noted that there are even regulations limiting how often a jockey can whip a horse.
The goal of the symposium was to understand the current state of the science, concussion health and safety initiatives, and new technological innovations that allow sensors in helmets, headbands, mouthpieces, and more to measure the acceleration of the head. First, leading scientists presented the science on repetitive brain trauma, including Dr. Ann McKee of Boston University School of Medicine, Dr. Kevin Guskiewicz of the University of North Carolina, Dr. Bill Meehan of Boston Children’s, and a representative from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Then leaders in the sports community discussed their concussions safety initiatives and where a Hit Count™ would fit in. That discussion included Mr. Bertagna, Robin Harris, executive director of the Ivy League, and representatives from USA Football, USA Hockey, US Lacrosse, and Mass Soccer. Finally, Dr. Blaine Hoshizaki of the University of Ottawa led a discussion exploring whether new technology could be adapted to simply “count” hits to the head, thus creating a real time Hit Count™ that could be utilized to improve youth athlete safety. The technology companies that helped sponsor the meeting included Battle Sports Science, gForce Tracker Inc., i1 Biometrics, Inc., Impakt Protective (Shockbox), MC10, and Triax Technologies.
As the first in a series of discussions regarding the possibility of a Hit Count™, the symposium was successful. Consensus was that “less is probably better” when it comes to head trauma, and process was set through which to answer some of the more difficult questions, including where to set a minimum threshold to define a “hit” and how to educate parents, coaches, and athletes about Hit Count™.
SLI will continue to advance this discussion, with the goal of having Hit Count™ products on the shelf some time in 2013. Experts see many benefits to monitoring brain trauma, especially the opportunity to intervene early in a season to change techniques that will minimize brain trauma. The science is not perfect about what exposure is dangerous and what is not, but the experts agreed this is a long-term process and in one year the recommendations will be refined as new information becomes available. As a teaching tool, Dr. Cantu noted, A Hit Count™ policy, if adopted, could reduce cumulative lifetime brain trauma by over 50% for many athletes. It’s too good of an opportunity to pass up, and SLI looks forward to working with various stakeholders to help keep athletes safe.
For more information visit www.HitCount.org.