Remote sensors making a play in concussion fray

An innovative startup from Cambridge, Mass., is ready to take on the nation's concussion problem with a remote sensor that fits into a cap. Once established, the technology could become the norm for schools, amateur and professional sports teams, recreational facilities, even businesses.

The Reebok Checklight, unveiled this past year in a partnership with the sports apparel manufacturer, consists of a small sensor fitted into the back of a skullcap, which measures the force of a blow to the head and displays a color – green, yellow or red – indicating whether that blow might have caused a concussion. Elyse Winer, the company's manager of marketing and communications, points out that the sensor isn't meant to give a clinical diagnosis, but to alert the individual – and those around him or her – that he or she might need to be tested for concussion symptoms.

The Reebok Checklight was named a 2014 "International CES Innovations Design and Engineering Awards Best of Innovations" honoree and is on display at this week's 2014 International CES in Las Vegas. MC10, meanwhile, is busy here in several venues, with presentations by company CEO David Icke, marketing and product management director Jillian White and Isaiah Kacyvenski, a former NFL linebacker who now heads the company's sports department.

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The company announced this week the signing of Andrew Luck, quarterback of the NFL's Indianapolis Colts, as an advisory board member, and has another member of that board, former Major League Soccer player, former U.S. Men's National Team member and current ESPN analyst Taylor Twellman, on hand as well; that Twellman's career with the New England Revolution ended early due to concussion problems points to the significance of the Reebok Checklight technology.

And they're debuting a skin-mounted sensor that can be worn like a band-aid and can wirelessly transmit biometric information. Winer said the patch is due to be released this year.

Winer added that the company is focusing first on the consumer market because these types of sensors need to be accepted by consumers before the healthcare community will recognize them. Like much of the mHealth market these days, wearable sensors and biometric monitors need to mold seamlessly into one's lifestyle or workflow. If they're accepted as a fashionable accessory, or as a simple, unobtrusive piece of clothing, then people are more likely to wear them, which means clinicians will see the benefit of using data collected from them.

With the Reebok Checklight, Winer pointed out that the skullcap is popular with athletes young and old and doesn't look like a monitor. Furthermore, it displays a simple color code at the back of the cap that can be read by anyone in the vicinity – be it a teammate, coach, trainer or parent – thus taking the onus of reporting a possible concussion out of the athlete's hands.

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