Once shrugged off as just part of the game, concussions in players from the National Football League on down to Pee Wee level are under much scrutiny.
The NFL has punished players for illegal hits and now requires teams to post concussion guidelines in the locker rooms. A consortium led by researchers and physicians affiliated with Boston University, after years of campaigning to raise awareness of the long-term dangers posed by concussions, joined forces with the league last year to study the issue.
Corporate America also is getting in on the act. Wake Forest University is using Toyota’s car collision software to study the effects of hits and tackles on players, aiming to design better football helmets. And last week, microchip maker Intel Corp. (NSDQ:INTC) said it’s researching the topic, partnering with universities and a major helmet manufacturer to develop computer simulations that can assess the risk of head injuries.
Key to Intel’s efforts is a collaboration with Mayo Clinic. The non-profit hospital and research group based in Rochester, Minn., is helping Intel develop technology that can more rapidly crunch data from brain scans of injured players. Using an upcoming supercomputer chip design called Intel MIC, the company and Mayo already have boosted processing power by 18 times.
Eventually, Intel wants to help create helmets that collects real-time collision and injury data from the field during games.