UBC studying concussions in new and unusual manner

Watch UBC’s football team play the St. Francis Xavier X-Men in this weekend’s Uteck Bowl – with the winner going on to the national championship for the Vanier Cup – and you might notice a small device that looks like a radio transmitter.

In fact, it’s part of a research project into concussions. For the last year, members of the team have been wearing a sensor, called an xPatch, behind their ears, that can chart the intensity of hits to the head.

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Jean-Sébastien Blouin, an associate professor at UBC’s School of Kinesiology and lead researcher on the project, hopes it gives people more answers on how exactly concussions take place.

“Once you have a sensor that’s valid and gives you credible information on the head impacts, then you can get at…is there a threshold? Is there a certain acceleration to the head that you should pull a player from play and assess them?” asks Blouin.

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“Or is it more that you have to have a number of impacts that happen within a certain framework, and then you need to look at the player?”

The study is unique because while there are many sensors on the helmets of football players, this one is located next to the player’s head.

Blouin says a report on the study will be released in the first half of 2016.

– With files from Ted Chernecki

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