Researchers tackle concussions with new technology

  • Jul 19, 2016
  • Faculty & Staff, Research, Chemistry

 Marcos Dantus (left) and Gary Blanchard

MSU chemistry professors Marcos Dantus (left) and Gary Blanchard set up an impact simulator to demonstrate their new impact-sensing technology.

With the public becoming increasingly aware of the link between football, concussions and long-term brain injury, MSU chemistry professors Marcos Dantus and Gary Blanchard started looking for a way to help prevent further injury among football players.

“We thought, 'Here’s an opportunity to make a difference,’” Dantus said.

The result, after more than 200 prototypes, is a headband equipped with removable Band-Aid-sized strips capable of detecting and differentiating between the various degrees of impacts football players withstand in practices and games. There's one strip on each side and one in the front, locations where players said high-impact events are most likely to occur. The strips are equipped with sensing material that displays differently depending on the amount of force withstood.

“When the strip inside the player-worn headband experiences a hit with moderate force, rings become visible,” Blanchard explained. “With more powerful impacts, the rings become more defined. At even higher impact levels, stars become visible inside the rings.

The strips cannot identify when a player has suffered a concussion, but what they can do is help trainers on the sidelines know a head impact has occurred, the magnitude and location. This information will help identify instances when a player needs further examination.

Blanchard and Dantus hope to test the impact-detecting sensor strips further in the coming year.

View a short demonstration video on how the technology works.

To read more about the chemistry department's research and activities, check out its 2016 newsletter.