About 1,000 concussions were sustained by Hawaii High School athletes every year for the last decade.
That’s according to the University of Hawaii, who’s Kinesiology and Rehabilitation Sciences department is launching a massive research study into high school football head impacts called the Hawaii Concussion Awareness & Management Program.
Pac-Five and three-time defending state champion Saint Louis are participating in the three-year study, with the Crusaders getting about 150 free helmets across their varsity and JV teams.
The helmets are equipped with sensors that are designed to show how substantial impact force is and where it occurs.
“The goal is to decrease the number of impacts that these athletes take so the cumulative effects of impacts will be decreased.” said Ross Oshiro, the coordinator of HCAMP.
The sensors equipped into the Ridell helmets send alerts on impact, giving the G-Force and location of the hit. Parameters take height, weight, and position into account.
“The helmet has its standard pads on the inside.” Oshiro said.
“There’s a sensor inside the helmet in between the shell and the padding and there’s a little device that stores the data as well as the battery for the sensor.”
If the impact is great enough, Athletic Trainers will evaluate the player for a concussion.
“We’ll see the location of the hits and then we’ll go ahead and talk to the athlete and be like you’re putting your head down when you hit, not supposed to be doing that so try a little bit better so you don’t get injured.” said Saint Louis Athletic Trainer Kristina Egdamin.
Saint Louis, currently ranked as the top team in the state in the Cover2 state rankings and 6th in the United States by USA Today, is one of the most physical teams in the nation. Even their biggest enforcers have gotten feedback to help them remain healthy.
“I do it definitely helps me to know where to place my head. It tells me if I’m using my head too much or if I can pull back.” said linebacker Mason Taliulu.
With the rapid pace of the game on Friday nights, implementation of technique will take years of mastery and teaching from the youth level.
“Yeah at the linebacker position I mean pretty much hitting with our head every day.” said linebacker Mason Tufaga.
“The way we grew up is different from the era now where we have to hit more with our pads, we’re taught to hit more with our facemask and our helmet.”
In year two of the study, a third yet-to-be-named team will be included, and teams will participate in a 10-15 period of helmetless tackling drills to teach technique two-to-three times a week.
“The end result probably that we would want this helmetless tackling to be implemented throughout the schools.” Oshiro said.