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Hot Helmet for Football Players

TYRONE, Ga. (Ivanhoe Newswire) -- It's football season and for players, that means long, exhausting practices, lots of contact, and sometimes injuries. But not all those injuries will happen because of a tackle or a hit. Since 1995, 39 football players -- mostly high schoolers -- have died from overheating. Hundreds more have suffered serious medical problems. Now, a new kind of football helmet could help players stay safe.

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Summer or fall … helmets and shorts or full pads … football players are at risk for heat injury. Cornerback Nick Day knows the warning signs.

"Oh, definitely I cramp up really bad," Day told Ivanhoe. "I don't get hydrated enough and I get lightheaded on the field sometimes."

The higher the temperature, the greater the danger.

"Up around 107 degrees, that is heat stroke," Beth Higbie, Ph.D., an exercise physiologist at Hothead Sports in Tyrone, Ga., explained. "That's possible death, so there's a real small window between about 103 degrees to 107 degrees where we really ry to, we want to keep those kids from getting to that point."

It's not just kids. Minnesota Vikings lineman Corey Stringer died from heat stroke during a 2001 training camp. At the high school level, heat kills as many as five players a year.

Designed by exercise physiologists, a new helmet has sensors inside that continuously measure each player's body temperature. The information is sent to a PDA, allowing coaches and trainers to monitor them in real-time and keep players safe. An alarm sounds if a player's in trouble.

"Once the alert goes off, you're able to check them [and] maybe pull them out before they get into that scenario, so you have prevented them going into a heat emergency," Preston Bazemore, a certified athletic trainer at Blessed Trinity Catholic High School in Roswell, Ga., said.

One small sensor inside a football helmet is the technology that could save lives and keep players in the game.

The heat monitoring system from hothead technologies is believed to be the first of its kind. It costs about $99 per player. Several college football teams are test-driving the system during football season this year. Major helmet companies have placed 10,000 orders for the technology for this year, and hothead expects that 400,000 heat-sensing helmets will be going to football programs around the U.S. by 2011.

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Prior Reports
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