A prototype headband to record brain trauma is being designed in Australia, researchers said Wednesday, as sports such as football and rugby around the world grapple with how to manage knocks to the head.
The experimental brainBAND technology has sensors to record the impact on players of hits on the field. It aims to transmit that data in real time to medics, coaches and referees.
Neuroscientist Alan Pearce said currently the question of whether a player is considered fit to remain on the field after a big tackle or head clash is a subjective matter debated on the sidelines.
"That's at the elite level but at the non-elite level... there's no one there to really assess them properly," Pearce, from the Swinburne University of Technology, told AFP.
"Using the device can notify in real time that a player has had a head knock so we have an objective measure for them to come off the field."
The headband could also alert medics to trauma sustained from a glancing or seemingly harmless contact, he said, as the device has LED lights to indicate the severity of an impact.
"So the idea is that for weekend warriors if they get a head knock they can actually take that data... to the hospital and the emergency physician has some objective data to make a more accurate diagnosis," he said.
The headband prototype, which has been tested in Australia by amateur rugby union players to fine tune its design, could also record the smaller knocks that can have a cumulative impact.
"It's not necessarily the one or two big hits but it's those constant, repetitive knocks to the head that don't actually cause any symptoms that are leading to the long-term problems that a lot of the players are having," he said.
Pearce, who worked with industrial designer Braden Wilson and Samsung on the device, said much more testing needed to be done.
But he said the hope was that understanding more about repeated concussions could help prevent damaging injuries at every level of the game.
Rugby union star Israel Folau, who switched to the sport following stints as a rugby league and Australian Rules football player, said he believed he had been lucky to avoid concussion so far in his career.
But he told Sydney's Daily Telegraph that "raising awareness about the subject of concussion in sport is only ever a good thing".