SCCR & Stanford Medicine Team with Engineering to Prevent Concussions

SCCR is leading the research operations for the Taube Stanford Children’s Concussion Initiative, an innovative effort to look at how mouthguards may protect adolescent and young adult athletes from brain injury. 

A team including Stanford bioengineer David Camarillo, PhD; neurosurgeon Gerald Grant, MD; and neuroradiologist Michael Zeineh, MD, PhD, is working onevaluating concussions in high school and collegiate athletes across multiple sports.

Shannon Coffee, a star player on the Stanford Women’s Varsity Basketball Team, was a recent SCCR intern. In a YouTube video, she describes how the engineering team created the mouthguard. The sophisticated device contains numerous sensors to aid in collecting data on the accelerations and velocities of hits players are taking or delivering. 

The mouthguard records acceleration forces and sends the data wirelessly for storage and analysis in an attempt to decipher what types of hits cause concussions.The researchers hope to learn what impacts are most damaging and which positions are most vulnerable. A subset of participants are undergoing MRI to decipher imaging signatures of concussion and subconcussive injury. 

This initiative encompasses multiple studies, which are the first in the nation to measure rotation and full motion of the head during impacts among teens. The study sample includes more than 100 football and lacrosse players from three local high schools, as well as a few dozen members of the Stanford Football and Women’s Lacrosse teams.

The coordinating center of SCCR helped the principal investigators refine the protocol to determine the target study population and coordinate efforts to gain access to those populations at multiple sites. 

SCCR’s research staff run the study’s day-to-day operations, including recruiting participants from our contracted sites and conducting all study-related assessments.

An article in The Mercury News described the research and how it can help alleviate long-term cognitive impacts in view of the estimated four million youth who play football.