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Dreger: NHL interested in studying effects of head trauma

Darren Dreger
10/21/2009 8:28:00 PM
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Two NCAA college programs in the United States are using the latest in technology to study the cause and effect of head trauma on varsity hockey players. And the NHL has indicated interest in doing the same one day.

Dartmouth and Brown employ the Head Impact Telemetry System – HITS - to measure, record and analyze what impact collisions have on the head and brain.

HITs uses sensors in the helmet to record data such as the frequency each players sustains an impact, the severity of the blow and the location of the impact.

The NHL may follow suit – although there are no firm plans. It has approached parent company Simbex and president Rick Greenwald to learn more about the process. The NHL met with Greenwald last November and is considering a pilot project. But, the NHL  cautions, even if it embraces the technology, it may be years before the data gathered can be trusted.??

Greenwald says data compiled from the Dartmouth and Brown studies indicate some collisions in hockey compare to the most severe in football. Data also reveals that collisions in women's hockey also have a severe impact on the head – even though there is no deliberate body contact in the sport.

According to Greenwald, no one truly knows what the threshold is for concussions, but the data collected by HITS may go a long way to helping identify it.  He also says this information is merely a tool to help teams identify if something has happened.

Hockey's interest in this research follows footballs lead.

Three major college football programs have used HITS - Virginia Tech, Uiversity of North Carolina and Oklahoma employ the Head Impact Telemetry System.

 The New Yorker reported in a recent story that UNC responded to findings by cutting back on the number of contact practices – all to minimize the number of hits that could have a cumulative effect on players' brains.

Darren Dreger

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