August 11, 2022

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Wearable neck sensor may help predict risk of concussion in high-impact sports

A sensor patch worn on the again of the neck may possibly support measure whiplash and forecast the hazard of concussion in superior-affect sports activities, new analysis suggests. File Photograph by Archie Carpenter/UPI | License Photo

June 23 (UPI) — A sensor patch worn on the back of the neck may perhaps help measure whiplash and predict the hazard of concussion in superior-effects sporting activities this sort of as football, new investigation implies.

The review was printed Thursday in Scientific Experiences.

Nearly 4 million concussions similar to sports and recreational pursuits take place annually in the United States, but as many as 50% of concussions may well go unreported, specialists say.

“The finish target … is to have wearable, untethered patches that can supply actual-time facts about the head and neck movement of the athlete,” Nelson Sepúlveda Alancastro, principal investigator for the review, informed UPI.

He is a professor in the electrical and laptop engineering office at Michigan Point out University. His doctoral college student, Henry Dsouza, ran the experiments and done the extensive vast majority of the analysis, Alancastro mentioned.

In their get the job done, a compact and flexible product was ready to detect unexpected neck strain, these types of as whiplash, using a examination dummy.

The scientists formulated a novel patch sensor employing a film layer of thermoplastic substance that produces electrical power when physically touched or pressure is applied, a information launch reported.

The electrical signal that is created is proportional to the actual physical strain on the neck and can be utilised to estimate the acceleration and velocity of unexpected neck motion, which are two crucial markers for predicting concussion.

At this time, units are obtainable to assist forecast concussion, these kinds of as accelerometer-based sensors that detect motion when placed in an athlete’s helmet. But these gadgets “are cumbersome and can give untrue readings when the helmet moves on the person’s head,” according to the release.

To take a look at the sensor patch, the scientists utilized the unit to the back again of the neck of a dummy that had accelerator-dependent sensors and a gyroscope within its head.

They then dropped the dummy from a suspended height of 24 inches to simulate whiplash, and located the sensor patch’s output “had a powerful optimistic correlation of 90% with final results from the sensors inside the head,” the launch explained.

“The original idea was inspired by developing a wearable, untethered patch which can transmit info about the head accelerations professional by a high-get hold of activity athlete,” Alancastro said.

But the patch may well also locate purposes “in monitoring structural health of underground pipes,” he stated, “and we are also looking at apps for monitoring underwater species.”

Alancastro reported present technologies employed to observe head actions are primarily based on helmeted gadgets. These frequently deliver inaccurate readings because they are translating helmet actions — which do not essentially represent head or human body movements.

He mentioned the scientists didn’t focus on a single patch. “​We will have to have tested dozens of patches, every time strengthening reliability, which is a single of the key current bottlenecks. We are also functioning on the self-sensing abilities of the device,” he stated.

He explained the recently devised sensor as far more comfortable and also possible less highly-priced than the currently used sensors for predicting concussion.

“They are substantially more cost-effective than present accelerometers utilized in helmeted gadgets, and it should really not truly feel unique than acquiring a ‘Band-Aid’ on the neck,” he explained.

Alancastro acknowledged that it is even now achievable to get wrong readings from his team’s patch.

“There are a lot of resources of noise and untrue electric alerts, and this is a thing we are doing work on,” he explained. “How can we use the patch readings to obtain an accurate description of the head and neck movements? We have many various tips and methods in thoughts.”