Prevent Biometrics is creating a mouth guard that can sense impacts during sports events and tell you via a mobile app if there’s risk of a concussion.
The Minneapolis-based company will show the mouth guard and mobile app at the 2017 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas in January. The technology can accurately detect impacts and assess whether or not there is a risk of concussion. Via a mobile app, it can send out real-time alerts to parents or others so that they can take appropriate actions.
Studies show that each year, more than half the estimated 3.8 million sports concussions in the U.S. go undetected. Prevent Biometrics is on a mission to advance concussion research and improve athlete safety through accurate head impact data. Right now, most of that is subjective and inaccurate, based on observation. But the mouth guard can generate actual data and make the process of assessment more objective.
“Advances in concussion safety start with accurate head impact data,” said Steve Washburn, cofounder and CEO of Prevent Biometrics, in a statement. “When you can accurately measure head impacts in real time, there are immediate benefits to athletes on the field of play and to the researchers, scientists and engineers working to make sports safer.”
Prevent’s technology was developed by neurosurgeons and engineers at Cleveland Clinic with funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and others. Cleveland Clinic remains Prevent Biometrics’ product development partner and maintains an equity interest in the company.
According to recent research by the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center’s Sports Medicine Concussion Program, players who stay in the game after head trauma take nearly twice as long to recover as athletes who leave the game immediately.
When it comes to concussions, immediate detection and full recovery are key to preventing long-term damage.
“Even with the best equipment, player technique, rules of play and education, concussions can’t be prevented. We want kids to experience the life-changing benefits of sports without risking the consequences of playing with this invisible injury,” said Washburn.
Prevent Biometrics, founded in 2015, has raised $2.5 million from investors, and it is also a recent sub-awardee of a $4.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Defense.
The mouth guard detects whether an impact force exceeds a certain preset threshold. When that happens, a red light-emitting diode (LED) illuminates on the mouth guard, and an alert is sent to team personnel through the mobile app. The head impact monitor uses a patented deformable body algorithm to measure the force, direction, and location of head impacts in real time, providing the most accurate and comprehensive view of athlete head impacts. Prevent’s head impact monitor is extremely accurate, with an error rate of plus or minus 5 percent, and is the only product to have its accuracy proven in a peer-reviewed study, which was based on the NFL Validation Standard.
“Research has shown that accurate head impact measurements are impossible to achieve without a secure coupling to the skull. This is why we chose to embed our impact monitor in a mouth guard, and develop our technology and intellectual property around this concept,” said Washburn.
Prevent Biometrics plans to offer two versions of its head impact monitor for athletes ages 11 and older, starting at $199. Beta testing is underway with youth and high school athletes, as well as in studies being conducted by leading concussion researchers at major universities. The company is targeting a 2017 launch in six markets, with nationwide availability by 2018.