Driven by Data – The NFL Player Safety Revolution
DTS DDR Data Logger Sensor Mouthguard NFL Driven by data
DTS DDR Data Logger Sensor Mouthguard NFL Driven by data

January 28, 2022

Healthy, uninjured players are the backbone of football. And as technology advances, so do our opportunities to gain more knowledge through data that can be used to improve how the game is played, the gear players wear, and the environment around them. There are many ways the NFL and other innovators are now collaborating to improve the safety of players.

In 2016 the NFL allocated $60 million toward the Engineering Roadmap, a movement toward a better understanding of football biomechanics leading to the development of better protective equipment. Dr. Crandall who chairs the NFL’s Head, Neck and Spine Engineering Subcommittee states, “We brought together the leading researchers and biomechanics, and medicine. We’ve coupled them with innovators, designers that manufacture helmets, protective equipment, and sensors, so we can consolidate all the information and have transformational change in short order.”

Currently the NFL is working with Amazon Web Services (AWS) to build the Digital Athlete, which is a virtual representation of a player. This Digital Athlete can run countless simulations, be used to better predict player injury and, hopefully, help prevent injuries. According to NFL.com, Sam Huddleston, Principal Data Scientist at Biocore, the NFL’s engineering partner, says “”We’re leveraging computer simulation in order to generate injury reconstructions. That allows us to understand, why did this player get injured, and then identify the things we could do to change that outcome.”

To accomplish this, a tremendous amount of data must be gathered and then input. The data will come from a wide range of sources including medical records, video reviews, field mapping, practice and performance data, equipment scans, and innovative technology such as shoulder pads, helmets, and mouthguard sensors.

The mouthguard sensor program was launched in 2019 as part of the Engineering Roadmap. Mouthguards fitted with DTS DDRs (Dynamic Data Recorder) are playing a key role gathering data that will help inform the Digital Athlete, as well as the development of gear that will improve player safety.

The DTS DDR is a flexible data logger embedded inside the mouthguard that can measure impact forces, speeds, and directions. We are proud that our ultra-small, flexible 6DOF data event logger is being used to help improve NFL player safety.

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