NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - In recent years, concussions and brain injuries have cast a shadow over America's favorite sport.
In February, THV 11 featured a special report on the safety ratings of football helmets and now one central Arkansas high school has a chance to use cutting edge technology to help protect players in its program. Helmet maker Riddell approached North Little Rock High's football team about trying a new helmet sensor that can alert trainers when athletes may have sustained a concussion. It's a brand new technology that only a handful of schools around the country are using.
"There's no high school in the state of Arkansas with this technology right now," said North Little Rock Athletic Director Gary Davis. "Concussions are a major concern for every football program."
Davis was honored when Riddell approached his program about trying its new InSite Impact Sensors. The sensors, put inside a players' helmet, record the strength of every hit and send alerts to a handheld device on the sideline when the impact is strong enough.
"If a kid sustains a big enough impact it will alert the trainer that this happened," said Davis, "which gets us started on the preventative measures and the recuperation of that athlete making sure that we don't put him in any more danger."
The sensors don't just monitor big hits, they record every hit and even send an alert when a individual player sustains multiple lower-level impacts over the course of a week. While Davis would love to put one of these in every football helmet in his school district right now, it's not in the budget.
"Student athlete safety is top priority," added Davis. "We don't always have the money to do everything we want to do and that's why I'm very appreciative of the Wildcat Foundation even looking at this because it's an expense that, as a school district, we really didn't even plan on."
Each sensor costs about $150 with each monitor running about $200. The Wildcat Foundation, a private organization that helps fund everything from athletics to education and drama programs, is considering the purchase of 24 helmet sensors, which will total in the neighborhood of four thousand dollars. If the team uses, and likes them, then the program will look into possibly getting more in the future.
"I'm just honored that we've been approached," said Davis. "I'm hoping that the Wildcat Foundation decides to let us be the guinea pig for one year and let us see what happens, and if it works out then we've started something that, hopefully that will -- if it saves one kid then it's money well-spent."
The Wildcat Foundation was voting on whether to approve money for the sensors Tuesday night. The foundation's secretary said Wednesday that the Foundation has approved the expenditure for the helmet sensors.