An Intelligent Mouthguard currently in development helps detect head injuries and preserve brain health.
>> Nearly 434 concussions occur every hour in the United States alone.
From falls to fender-benders, football fields to battlefields around the globe, concussions and repetitive subconcussive impacts can rob us of our memory, our mental abilities and our very sense of self. Science now links concussions to both acute and long-term brain damage, including depression, aggression, early onset dementia, Alzheimer’s disease and other disorders.
As evidence mounts that concussion is anything but benign, Cleveland Clinic’s Edward C. Benzel, MD, Chairman of the Department of Neurosurgery, and Adam Bartsch, PhD, of the Center for Spine Health, are in the process of developing an Intelligent Mouthguard to better protect at-risk athletes.
The wireless device, which uses the same miniature sensors as cell phones and sends information to a nearby computer, is designed to detect serious hits that may not be identified otherwise.
“We’re also attempting to monitor the accumulation of hits to better understand the cumulative effects of repetitive trauma,” says Dr. Benzel, explaining that other devices on the market aren’t effective in helping clinicians interpret data in a meaningful manner. “With our system, we can use the data to enhance our diagnostic accuracy. The Intelligent Mouthguard could, for instance, provide vital information to coaches on the field regarding injuries that otherwise might have gone undetected.”
This alone would be significant, considering that more than 30 million kids play competitive sports in the United States.
“It may help save brains,” Dr. Benzel says, “and lives.”