If you watched the Super Bowl yesterday, or have seen any college or professional football game in recent years, you know that football can be a very high-impact sport. That is part of the beauty of the game, but it can also be incredibly dangerous in ways that have only started to become apparent. It is not just the bones and muscles of players that can be hurt with a powerful tackle — we now know that damage to the brain that occurs on impact can result in some of the most long-lasting and detrimental effects that can be experienced by athletes.
A company called MC10 is looking to help stop those neurological injuries before they start. The company, which focuses on making wearable electronics products, has developed a device along with Reebok called the CheckLight, a very lightweight skull cap that fits under a helmet and gauges the severity of an impact. When an athlete has a hit that may necessitate a time out or outside evaluation, the cap emits a yellow light. A red light indicates that the hit was even higher impact and more potentially brain damaging.
The idea is that brain injuries are not as apparent from the outside as, say, a broken bone. So the CheckLight aims to give an outward indication of when something damaging may have occurred, so that help can come quickly.
No one knows the need for a product like this better than MC10′s director of sports and business development Isaiah Kacyvenski. A Harvard alum and retired NFL player who was a captain for the Seattle Seahawks during the team’s appearance in the 2006 Super Bowl, Kacyvenski has taken his fair share of hard hits, and suffered a number of concussions (in fact, he has publicly spoken out about the league’s handling of brain injuries). But according to Kacyvenski, the real promise of the CheckLight is how it can impact sports at the non-professional levels for kids and teenagers.
Kacyvenski stopped by TechCrunch TV to give us a hands-on look at the CheckLight and talk about how it could change the nature of sports such as football, hockey, lacrosse, and others. You can see that in the video embedded above.