Football helmet tracks harmful hard hits

by Brian Mooar
NBC News

It's football season and perhaps more than ever teams are concerned about concussions and the threat they pose to players.

Now for the first time, a sports equipment company is mass-marketing a helmet equipped with sensors designed to measure the force of every hit.

In the past they've only been available to university and pro players as experimental research tools.

But now they're being marketed to conscientious teams, and concerned parents willing to pay the price.

Some 300,000 football-related concussions are reported every year among high school players alone.

But experts say undiagnosed concussions may double that number and leave athletes who don't know it at risk of long-term brain damage.

Now a high-tech helmet is being marketed as an early warning system.

Manufactured by Riddell, it's called the Revolution IQ Hits.

The price tag $1,000 each.

"People spend money on cell phones, on iPods, on drivers for their golf game. We don't think this is a lot of money to spend for head protection," said Thad Ide of helmet maker Riddell.

The helmet transmits violent impact information to a computer so teams, trainers and even concerned parents will know exactly how hard and how often a player has been hit.
"Player sees impacts. Any game, any practice. Impacts are uploaded one, two three, just like that.  Now the impacts reside on your pc," said Ide.

"What they're measuring is the g-forces in the helmet not the g-forces on the brain," said Doctor Robert Dimeff of the Cleveland Clinic.

Dimeff says g-forces alone don't cause concussions and he questions whether data from the high-tech helmets will help non-professionals.

"As it stand rights now, it's a research tool and that's the way it should be looked at," said Dimeff.

Still, some will see the "smart helmet" as a wise investment no matter what the price.