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Hi-Tech Mouth Guard Helping Football Teams Track Impacts

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- Football has always been a dangerous game, but it is only in recent years that we have come to understand just how dangerous it can be to the most important part of an athlete's body -- their brain

There is a whole new focus on concussions and other head injuries, and the need to prevent them.

It is in that context that Edina-based company Prevent Biometrics presents a new option, in bite-size form: A mouth guard.

"Head-impact monitoring is a whole new capability thanks to kind of the miniaturization of electronics, and a lot of new technology. And for the first time, we're able to assess in real time the relative magnitude of head impacts that athletes are taking," said Prevent Biometric CMO David Sigel. "[The mouth guard] sends a signal through Bluetooth to an app that will be on the sidelines with the trainer."

The mouth guard measures five head-impact characterizes each time a player takes a hit.

"Measures linear force, rotational force, where in the head you got hit, the direction the impact came from, and the number of impacts the athlete has," Sigel said.

Prevent Biometrics Mouth Guard
(credit: CBS)

It has been in development for the past nine years. This year, Wayzata High School's football team is one of a number of teams nationwide testing it out before it comes on the market next year.

"One of the benefits is that the trainer can make more informed decisions about athletes that might need to come off the field to be checked for a potential concussion," Sigel said. "Lower impact, lower magnitude hits, no alert, we just keep playing. And the vast majority of impacts, you know, don't cause an alert or really don't cause alarm. But when you have an impact of 60 Gs or 70 Gs, that's a lot, that's a big impact, and most experts would say that athlete ought to be looked at."

Wayzata Head Coach Lambert Brown says he is always looking for ways to improve his program.

"If we can find a correlation between something, maybe, you know, impacts in a certain way in this game … if we can teach something differently, if we can, you know, be a part of maybe making a rule change or being a part of making this game safer for everybody, then we want to be a part of that," Brown said.

The mouth guard has its limits. It does not actually offer any additional protection from concussions, and it cannot diagnose a concussion.

"It's not a diagnostic device, it's not an FDA-cleared medical device or anything like that," Sigel said.

But it is another tool to gather information that trainers, doctors and coaches can use.

"To help them be more informed about the head impacts that their athletes are taking," Sigel said.

And try to keep them safer.

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