mals, the project team found an 83 percent reduction in markers of concussion. The team
then tested the band with a few hundred
athletes to fine-tune its fit and flag any
adverse effects, such as impinging athletes’
ability to get their heart rates up. The six-year
project will conclude later this year when the
team publishes its findings, Dr. Bailes says, which
will show the collar provides protection to high-school U.S. football players’ brains.
Other concussion-prevention projects aren’t giving
up on helmets just yet. VICIS, an organization based
in Seattle, Washington, USA, has developed a flexible
helmet, the Zero1, which aims to reduce the incidence of concussions. The project is funded in part
with US$500,000 from the Head Health Challenge,
a US$60 million program sponsored by the National
Football League (NFL), Under Armour and General
Electric to improve head health in U.S. football.
The VICIS project leveraged lessons learned
by the automotive industry, which uses plastic
bumpers and crumple zones to protect drivers and
passengers. “Instead of trying to slow a car down
over many feet or yards, we’re trying to slow these
impacts down over 2. 5 inches,” VICIS co-founder
and chief medical officer Samuel R. Browd, MD,
PhD, told Wired.
The multilayered Zero1 helmet features hundreds of flexible columns that work like shock
absorbers. Within milliseconds of a collision, they
bend and then snap back into place. After testing the helmet through drop tests and rotational
tests, the VICIS team found it reduces the force of
impact by 20 to 50 percent.
Leadership Ups and Downs
Other project teams hope to help
coaches better diagnose concussions
and follow up appropriately. “There’s a
critical need for the development of tools to help
manage concussions in young athletes,” says Lara
McKenzie, PhD, associate professor of pediatrics
at the Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s
Hospital, Columbus, Ohio, USA.
In 2014, Dr. McKenzie and her team began a two-year project to study the effectiveness of the Spot
Light app. It helps doctors, coaches and parents of
young U.S. football players assess concussions and
track athletes’ progress from the moment of injury
to when they’re allowed back in a game. Funded
through a US$30 million grant from the NFL to the
National Institutes of Health, the Nationwide team is
studying whether app use among middle-school and
high-school teams results in more concussions being
identified and better compliance with return-to-play
guidelines. A big project challenge has been ensuring
that app users correctly and consistently enter data.
“We needed to make sure the data are there so
we can analyze them,” Dr. McKenzie says.
The deeper challenge facing concussion-diagnosis
projects is that up to 50 percent of athletes don’t
report brain injury symptoms. To find an objective
measure of brain injury, a team at University College London, London, England is studying players
at a London rugby club to find chemicals associated
with brain injury that could be used to develop a
blood test. That way, officials won’t have to rely on
what athletes tell them—blood samples will provide
a definitive answer. —Novid Parsi
Source: Global Human Capital Trends 2016, Deloitte
say improving organizational
leadership is an important
priority this year.
of global executives say
their company isn’t ready
to meet leadership needs.
1 in 5
program at all.