Around 3,000 Australians every year are admitted to hospital for sporting-related head injuries. Doctors suspect that ten times that many people are actually affected.
The concussive impact of many of these injuries can often be as violent as a car crash, with the subjects brain colliding with the insides of their skull at an acceleration upwards of 10 Gs of force.
Beyond the initial concussion, sports-related head injuries are one of the leading causes of a condition called Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative disease of the brain that worsens over time.
CTE sufferers report memory loss, slowing and loss of muscular control, vertigo, deafness, and impaired judgement. It doesn’t just destroy the life of the sufferer, but often their families.
How could we help solve this problem?
While this issue has received much attention on the back pages of newspapers, the reality is this: while professional sportspeople are the most visible figures for this condition, it can just as easily affect weekend warriors such as park footballers, amateur netball players, surfers, children and teens playing school sports.
But rather than wrap Australians in cotton wool, was there a way to better understand the head trauma that sports-loving Aussies can suffer, to better minimise risks and provide timely treatment to prevent CTE?
Samsung’s Mixed Talents program is a global initiative that takes experts, thinkers and specialists from different fields and gives them a brief: to use technology in new ways to solve problems throughout our society.
To tackle the problem of sports related concussion, we brought together two experts from different fields – neuroscientist Alan Pearce and industrial designer Braden Wilson.
Together they developed Brainband - a piece of wearable technology designed to track and measure concussion and its effect on sportspeople from all walks of life.
BrainBand detects the severity and direction of concussive impacts to sportspeople, assigning a value in G-forces to each hit. It reports those impacts to the smartphones, tablets and smartwatches used by coaches, medics and referees, so they can assess the severity of the knock and implement any necessary measures – either sending a player for immediate treatment, or resting them for precautionary reasons.
This data is also added to a player’s medical profile on their Samsung devices, so that doctors can monitor them over time.
The campaign was launched exclusively though earned media, starting with a broadcast exclusive on Channel 7 prime time Evening News which reached 1.2 million Australians.
This piece was the catalyst for a mass of coverage in both national and international outlets, with stories running in major outlets such as Mashable and the Daily Mail, and reaching audiences in the US, the UK, China, Japan, and Mexico.
As a result of this vast public interest, the prototype Brainband technology is now being fast-tracked for public launch market.
So, in a few years, sports people of all levels could be tracking, diagnosing, and giving themselves the best possible protection against long-term injury.
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