UAA Concussion Research

“UAA Mouth Guard May Provide Insight into Concussions.” Green & Gold News. N.p., n.d.    Web. 20 Feb. 2013.

This article I found about concussions is a little bit closer to home. The University of Anchorage Alaska have done some concussion research themselves. They have noticed that there is plenty of information and statistics about emergency room visits from sports- and recreation-related brain injury among children and adolescents (almost 175,000 annually, up 60 percent over the past decade), there is very little information about what actually happens to the brain when it takes a hit. While there is helmets to measure the impact of a hit, UAA says, “..since the upper jaw is part of the skull, the mouth turns out to be a much better source of data.”

Three engineers at UAA, Anthony Paris, Jennifer Brock and John Lund, along with several undergraduates, are working hard to evolve a mouth guard with sophisticated instruments for measuring these forces. While research and tests continue they said challenges they’re facing are getting accurate measurements, capturing and wirelessly transmitting the data, and then developing useful information about brain injury from it.

The way the measure the impacts to the brain is by accelerations in Gs. Engineers measure linear acceleration in Gs (acceleration triggered by gravity) and angular acceleration in radians per second squared. Gravity causes a free falling object to drop at 1 G and a record turntable accelerates at 3.49 radians per second squared. To help explain this measurement a little more is “Now consider a soccer ball moving at 27 mph hitting a player’s head. Their mouth guard measured linear accelerations at about 28 Gs and angular accelerations of 3,900 radians per second squared.”

I think it is amazing how far concussion research has gotten. The University of Anchorage Alaska has taken another forward than just a measurement from a helmet. And it’s also quite amazing to me that this research is only in it’s early stage. I’m glad that there is research like this going on so close to home.

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