Researchers developed a small, flexible patch that sticks on the back of an athlete’s neck and can identify whiplash
About 3.8 million concussions from sports-related injuries occur annually in the United States. These injuries can have “prolonged symptoms and long-term consequences,” according to University of Michigan Health. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that as many as 5 to 8 percent of all athletes in the country suffer a concussion in any given sports season.
While concussions often happen after physical impact, the brain can still be damaged without collision. Whiplash—or high-acceleration head movement—can also cause injuries like concussions. Early detection of concussions, with or without collision, is important to avoid future complications.
In a new study published in the journal Scientific Reports, researchers created a device to identify whiplash early: a small, flexible patch that sticks on the back of an athlete’s neck.
“Whenever there is movement of the neck, there is pressure either in the form of contraction or tension,” Nelson Sepúlveda, a professor of electrical engineering at Michigan State University and co-author of the paper, tells The Daily Beast’s, Tony Ho Tran. “Those movements are picked up by the patch and translated to an electrical signal.”
The electrical signal produced is directly proportional to the amount of strain the neck experiences and can be used to estimate the acceleration and velocity of neck movement, both used for concussion predictions, per a statement. The patch, which is about 0.1 millimeter thick, is made of a layer of thermoplastic material.
“The end goal ... is to have wearable, untethered patches that can provide real-time information about the head and neck movement of the athlete,” Sepúlveda tells UPI’s Judy Packer-Tursman.
Source: Margaret Osborne (https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news)