March .13 .2014

High-Tech Brain Protection

Sporting goods giant Reebok has developed a high-tech device to help protect athletes from brain injury and concussions.

The Reebok Checklight is a black skullcap that athletes wear under their regular protective headgear. A light hangs from the cap that can be seen just under the helmet at the base of the neck. Green means go, yellow means a moderate blow has been sustained, red means an athlete has suffered a severe impact.

Reebok cautions that the cap is not a diagnostic tool, but an “extra set of eyes designed to lead athletes on a pathway to assessment.” It makes the game safer by measuring the force of an impact, and the number of hits an athlete faces in a game.

A junior hockey team in New Jersey has been outfitted with the Checklight. Coaches, parents, and players welcome the device as an integral part of their everyday equipment.

Coach Justin Stanlick says the Checklight helps take the guesswork out of injury assessment and concussion diagnosis. When the light changes colour, we “know that player needs to go see a trainer to get cleared.”

The Checklight also helps to eliminate the pressures faced by young players who feel they must assert their toughness by playing through an injury. If the sensor lights up, they have no choice but to be taken off the ice.

Retailing at $150 US, the Checklight is one of the most wallet-friendly impact devices on the market. It comes in four sizes, small to extra-large.

Reebok is hoping to release a headband version later this year.

Experts say the science doesn’t completely support the use of devices like the Checklight quite yet. But the New Jersey junior hockey team is evidence of an evolving sports marketplace focused on brain protection.

“We want to see the players long term,” said Coach Stanlick. “We want to see them stay in the sport and enjoy it.”

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