Virginia Schools Say No to Helmet Sensors

Virginia Schools Say No to Helmet Sensors

Student athlete safety has come under scrutiny in Loudon County with officials rejecting helmet sensors for the Northern Virginia high school's football players.

The Loudon School Board’s Health, Safety and Transportation Committee recently decided unanimously not to use the sensors.

Loudon assistant superintendent Ned Waterhouse tells The Washington Post that the district may reconsider the decision “when a device is scientifically and medically proven."

School spokesman Wayde Byard says the committee noted that only a small group of parents at one of the county's 14 high schools has asked for sensors. That school is Loudoun Valley High School in Purcellville.

Will Sensors be Commonplace One Day?

The technology behind helmet sensors varies by company, but in basic terms, a sensor is attached to the inside of a football helmet. Once activated, it can provide an immediate wireless transmission to a smart phone providing hit counts and impact severity.

The goal is to remove any guess work and alert adults when a student needs to stop playing and seek medical advice.

"In particular, this young population has immature brains,” Cynthia Trowbridge of the MomsTEAM Institute recently said on NBC's TODAY show. “They have smaller brains and bigger skulls. And so there's more room for a brain that's surrounded by fluid to knock around in that skull."

Costs for these sensors vary, but $75 to $150 per helmet is normal with an additional cost of $200 for a monitoring system.

Head injuries are among the most serious concerns for athletes and those in the local sports medicine field who treat them.

Injuries can occur due to accidents, poor training, improper gear or simply not being in shape. To learn more about such injuries and the best course of action, check out this Angie's List guide.

The first step to take in case of an injury is to stop playing. Continuing to play or exercise can cause more harm. 

Common injuries include sprains and strains, fractures, dislocations, knee injuries, shin splints, fractures and dislocated joints.

How Does a Sprain Differ From a Strain?

Sprains and strains are similar injuries, yet they involve different parts of the body.

Sprains are the stretching or tearing of ligaments — the bands of fibrous tissue that connect one bone to another.

Ankle sprains are common, as are ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) sprains. The ACL in the knee can rupture when the knee twists suddenly.

Strains, on the other hand, are a stretching or tearing of a muscle or tendon. Tendons connect muscles to bones. The hamstring and lower back are common locations of strains.

Shin splints involve the tissue that attaches the muscle of the lower leg to the shin bone. Wearing improper gear or too much exercise can cause it to pull away or become inflamed.

Knee problems are especially common. Aside from ACL sprains, overuse can cause soreness or weakness in the knees. If the knee swells or is painful for more than 48 hours, it is important to consult a professional.

Finally, one important thing to remember is that game day isn't the only time to be concerned. According to the National Athletic Trainers' Association more than half of all sports injuries occur at practice.


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