Former football players are welcoming the decision from a Halifax university to adopt smart helmets that track and record the hits players receive, alerting coaching staff of a potential concussion.
Each Riddell SpeedFlex helmet is valued at more than $500 each, a cost that the Dalhousie University football players believe is well worth the investment.
For many players, the impacts of head trauma from playing football can be short term or long term.
How trauma affects an individual over time is something that many players tend not to tackle because of stigma.
“There’s still some of that old stigma around of, ‘oh just suck it up,’ because you can’t see it,” said Kyler Crawford.
“If you blow your knee out, you can tell because you can’t stand on it, you know?”
Crawford played football at St Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, N.S. from 2001-2006 and says he’s been impacted by 12 undiagnosed concussions.
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Now a coach of a Dartmouth minor football league team, Crawford says that it’s important for other coaches and team staff to be aware of the impact of head trauma.
“It’s our job to make sure that we’re doing our due diligence and erring on the side of caution,” Crawford said.
The shared responsibility for player well-being led Mark Haggett, the coach of the Dalhousie University football team, to purchase the new ‘smart helmets.’
The Riddell SpeedFlex helmets can track and detect the impact a player’s head has received during a game.
“We want to keep them safe and it’s our responsibility to do that,” said Haggett.
“We love the game…[but] their brains and their heads matter a lot more than the game that we play on Saturdays.”
Another former football player, Bradley Daye, says that the new helmet technology could have limited the time he spent on the field, something he believes could have helped his long-term health.
“There would have been games here and there that I would have had to sit out of,” said Daye.
“At the time that would have been a tough pill to swallow, but it would been what was best for me.”
Crawford says that the new technology will help players get assessed after hard hits.
“The players are always going to default to the side of ‘I want to play,’ so to have something a number of people can point at… I think it could have some positive impact” said Crawford.
An online crowdfunding campaign has been started by the university to help cover the costs of the new helmets. To donate, click here.