Somewhere arguably the best hockey player in the world is trying to find his way back into the game. First it was a 10-month hiatus and now no one really knows — not even the experts. The National Hockey League’s brightest star, Sidney Crosby, is sidelined by concussion symptoms yet again. But what if there would have been technology that could have warned the Pittsburgh Penguins training staff back on January 1, 2011. The day of the outdoor “Winter Classic” of course, but more importantly the game that changed the future of hockey’s biggest icon.
Well ask and you shall receive. An innovative company in Ottawa, Ont., called Impakt Protective, Inc., has developed a product that may not stop the initial concussion though will greatly educate and help reduce the possibility of a head injury in the future.
“The Shockbox will not stop the first concussion. Although it will help prohibit a second or third incident because now the tool allows coaches and trainers to have a history of data on head impact for each player”, states the company’s CEO, Danny Crossman.
The Shockbox is an impact alert product that today plays a vital role in the identification process and management of concussions. It is the concussions that go undetected and the multiple ones that threaten careers. Just exactly what has happened to Crosby.
Crossman then added, “Staying out of the game because you know you have a concussion isn’t what ends careers. If anything it prolongs it.”
Impakt Protective designs and manufactures helmet impact sensors for contact sports like hockey, football, lacrosse, skiing, and snow boarding.
This leading-edge mechanics allows coaches, trainers, and parents to receive immediate alerts on their smart phone device (Blackberry, Andriod, and soon on the Apple iPhone) using wireless Bluetooth technology when a player suffers a traumatic head impact that may be a possible concussion.
The Shockbox uses a smart phone-based application where the data is processed upon impact. The information tells where the contact to the head occurred, whether it was from the front, side, or back. It also informs upon the g-force of the impact where the cautious yellow color would be shown on the phone indicating a range of 50-90g. Any contact resulting in a g-force greater than 90 would be displayed in orange.
“There is no magic threshold on concussions. Just a certain amount of research and information. A normal hit in the junior or college level shows 96% of impacts are below 50g. You have to draw a line in the sand somewhere in order to get a quantitative measure”, quips the former bomb disposal officer in the British Army, Crossman.
It was five years ago when serving his country on one of his last projects in which he recorded the data from road side blasts on soldiers did the idea originally formulate in Crossman’s mind. Later he would connect with Scott Clark, who now servers as the company’s President & VP of Operations. With the idea still just a bit of a dream in regards to evolving a sensor for helmets to sports, that “ah-ha” moment was pushed fast into development.
As just two hours later after their business meeting, Clark’s son suffered a concussion in a hockey game as he fell head first into the boards.
Both men knew something needed to be done, and the next day Impakt Protective was incorporated and Shockbox is a reality today.
There are other products out on the market today, although there does not seem to be anything as robust as the Shockbox. Impakt Protective has done their R&D as each hockey helmet out there from Bauer to Reebok to Cascade goes through detailed impact testing. This is done to eliminate as much of the gray area in data received on head impacts, so coaches, trainers, and parents can make a true assessment from the sidelines for players who may be at risk of a concussion.
According to Crossman, the Shockbox is the first and only sports helmet wireless impact sensor for under $200 in retail with an error rate of less than 5%.
The Shockbox also features the player’s history of all hits and coordinated evaluation program. This not only allows the parent, trainer, or coach to make an informed decision immediately it also has capabilities to forward the data to other relevant parties.
Right now the sensor is attached to the outside of the helmet with hopes of the newer design to be installed inside the helmet by spring of 2013.
“It’s not that the data varies in any manner from having the sensor inside or outside the helmet. This is more for the aesthetics for the players”, articulated the British-born Crossman.
Since launching in October 2011, the majority of cliental has been the grassroots approach of parents of youth hockey players. Though several men’s and women’s CIS (Canadian Interuniversity Sport) hockey teams are using the Shockbox as well as the OHL’s Ottawa 67’s in practice.
Impackt Protective’s highest executive is also collaborating with Hockey Canada, USA Hockey, and professional teams as well about concussion education and the benefits of players utilizing the Shockbox. He would not elaborate but he hopes to create a business partnership soon with an NHL team in the playoff hunt — though did mention it wasn’t his hometown Senators.
When asked about the head shots and concussion syndrome plaguing the game today, noted Crossman, a rugby enthusiast, “More media has blown it up, but for the better. Hockey will always be a contact sport and we are not trying to end physical contact but rather eliminate any assumption on getting players checked out or not when contact to the head occurs.”
Follow Russ Bitely for more hockey articles, news, and comments via Twitter: @russbites
Follow Impakt Protective and Shockbox as well on Twitter: @ShockboxCEO
Receive a 10% discount on the Shockbox when ordering online by using promo code: US0000012 at Impakt Protective.