NFL mouth guard research program includes UW Huskies

Data will be gathered from sensors that detect the impact of on-field hits. The goal is to protect players from head trauma. 

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The National Football League (NFL) today announced new partnerships with the University of Washington and three other research universities to expand its collection of data regarding on-field head impacts to inform injury-reduction efforts at the professional and collegiate levels.

UW football players, as well as those at the universities of Alabama, North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and Wisconsin will have the opportunity to opt in to the NFL’s novel program, which collects data from a sensor built into a custom-fit mouth guard.

“We’re pleased to be part of this collaborative player-safety initiative. I look forward collecting data that ultimately improves our ability to protect football players from head trauma at all levels – youth, high school, college and professional,” said Dr. Kimberly Harmon, professor of family medicine and orthopedics and sports medicine at the University of Washington School of Medicine.

Players at all four universities are using the mouth guard sensors this season. Each university will be provided with a statistical analysis specific to their team to help inform their own efforts to advance player health and safety.

The high-tech mouth guard sensors, currently used by players at 10 NFL clubs, are designed to collect kinematic data, including impact speed, direction, force, location and severity. Insights gleaned from the data collected will help inform the NFL’s approach to injury reduction and decrease head impacts overall. The NFL’s application of data through better prediction of injury, rules changes and the continued advancement of better-performing equipment, like position-specific helmets, has helped improve the safety of the game.

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