Following a $900m class-action lawsuit settlement between the NFL and former players, heightened concern over player welfare has accelerated the introduction of measures to address concussion and head trauma.
It’s a complex issue, as the effects are often not notable until after a player has retired and is no longer and part of a franchise’s daily infrastructure. However, rather than absolve the NFL of accountability, this only serves to heighten the need for care during a player’s career.
One solution is technology such as Linx IAS, originally a military tool designed to measure the invisible impact of shockwaves from an explosive blast. The tool can give medical staff a sense of the severity of the impact of the shockwave on an individual, which in turn can help the triage process.
Keeping track of impact over time will allow coaches to remove players from the field before lasting damage is done, and is a real step forward in sports medics’ attempts to understand and address head injuries in real time.
Not only beneficial for sports players and fans alike, the developments are interesting on a number of levels. Medics may choose to explore how assessing head injuries objectively compares with subjective examination and more antiquated concussion tests, whilst Engineering applicants may wish to engage with how that technology might be put together. Lawyers, on the other hand, may like to consider the settlement that kick-started this movement – is the NFL responsible for compensating its players many years after they retire? Who should take ownership of caring for the players? In any case, embracing technology, rather than rejecting it, seems like a step in the right direction.