Brain damage and head trauma in professional sports has gained significant attention in recent decades. In high-contact professional sports organizations such as the NHL and NFL, new regulations are being instated to protect players from suffering traumatic head injuries. But what does head trauma look like? Does a concussion require a lights-out hit? Irish inventor Mark Dillon has recently taken the next step with a detection device in his project at the Dublin Institute of Technology.
Dillon’s new device is called “Mamori” which means “protect” in Japanese. Mamori is a a mouthguard with built-in sensors that can communicate to someone on the sidelines when a player has received a serious head injury even if is not physically evident. The technology has sensors, an accelerometer, gyroscope and a magnetometer which help detect any force taken on by players during games and practices.
If the force absorbed by a player is significant enough, the information can be received with the Mamori app on a computer instantly. This way, trainers can provide treatment to an injured player quicker because they were able to detect the trauma earlier. Knowing that information sooner is pivotal because concussions are not always easily detectable. Shortening the detection time for identifying concussed players makes this a potentially very valuable tool.
Dillon created Mamori because of the concussion problem with Gaelic football in Ireland along with the increasing problem of players playing with concussions and getting hit again. Because concussions are often undetectable, sometimes players shrug off the impact as a headache or a hard hit. If they are hit again while already concussed, however, the consequences can be much more severe.
This device has great potential for athletes in contact sports that have the ability to pull a player off to the sidelines while the team continues to play on. However, what would a device like this do for combat sports? Head trauma in mixed martial arts, kickboxing, karate and other striking arts is no secret. If this device is developed to its full potential, what would the result be in a sporting discipline that deals in the strongest head trauma possible?
A football player can take a hard hit and be escorted off of a field. A hockey player can be on the wrong side of a check and be escorted to the bench. What about a boxer who doesn’t duck a hook in time? Most major sports involve some kind of contact and impact, but the impacts to athletes that could involve devastating head trauma are fewer compared to combat sports. In striking combat sports bouts, dishing out the hardest head trauma strike is the main objective.
Do you believe this device would ultimately be of benefit to combat sports athletes? Would combat sports athletes prefer to compete without the early detection of concussions and brain trauma?