NFL Expands Program to Collect On-Field Head-Impact Data
The NFL has added four universities to its research project using data collected from mouthguard sensors to determine on-field head impacts and inform injury reduction efforts.
The league will work alongside medtech company Align Technology to create and roll out the customized mouthguards to football players and collect on-field injury data.
The mouthguard sensor program launched in 2019 and was established as part of the NFL’s $60 million commitment to promote health and safety initiatives.
This brings the total number of participating universities to eight with the addition of the University of Florida, the University of Georgia, the University of Pittsburgh and Vanderbilt University. They join players at the University of Alabama, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the University of Washington and University of Wisconsin, all of which joined the program in 2021.
So far, around 250 players have opted into the project, allowing Align Technology to fit them with customized mouthguards created using intraoral scanners.
The anonymized data from all programs will be analyzed by the NFL alongside experts from Biocore and the Center for Injury Research and Prevention at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. This will be in combination with data from identical data collection schemes underway at four NFL clubs. The results are hoped to better inform safety strategies from the NFL, including rule changes, training techniques and safety equipment used.
“We are excited about the opportunity to partner with the NFL to assist them in collecting more data to better understand on-field head impacts,” said Dr. James Clugston, University of Florida team physician. “The research will continue to help make the game of football safer and will guide us to develop best practices for equipment design, rules of competition and practice drills.”
“I’m thrilled to welcome the four new universities into this program, all of which – like the four founding universities – share our commitment to research in service of building a safer, better game,” said Jennifer Langton, NFL senior vice president of health and safety innovation. “By collecting a larger amount of mouthguard data, we can further our efforts to reduce concussions while also accelerating our broader goal to reduce all head impacts at all levels of the sport.”