How this technology helps the pros, and one day amateurs, too
So, what does the mouthguard actually measure? Well, there are loads of potential options, but one simplified measure is ‘contact load’, where many variables are combined to give a total load of the impacts received.
“What we’re measuring is rotational acceleration, which is measured in rads per second, which is gobbledygook to most people. But it also measures linear acceleration in G forces. So we combine those two to create something called a contact load,” Turner said.
With the help of Power, these mouthguards and metrics are transforming the way top teams monitor head impacts in both training and matches. Power gives the example of one of Gloucester’s key players, and how they have adjusted his weekly contact load.
“If we are aware that on a Saturday he’s going to achieve X amount of contacts or X amount of contact load, we’re confident we can reduce his overall contact training from Monday to Friday, to try to keep him fresh. Just exposing him to that minimum dose-response before playing that game. So that’s a really, really useful kind of metric that we use,” Power said.
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It’s not only used in player monitoring throughout the week but in rehabilitation, especially after a concussion.
“This software allows us to prescribe exact quantities of contact at incremental periods and add at incremental contact loads, optimising the rehab process,” Power said.
Unfortunately, this technology is not yet available for all levels of sport but provided it’s well researched, it may well be in the future.
“We must start at the right level in a very well-regulated, managed, and monitored environment. And only then do we bring it down to the kids, much as we would love to do that right now. It’s important to take it in the right order,” Turner said.