Preventing Football Concussions with Professor Morrison

Jan 27 2023 | By Youssf Hegazy | Edited by Harry Kelso

Barclay Morrison III, Vice Dean of Undergraduate Programs and Professor of Biomedical Engineering at the Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science, was recently featured on CBS New York about his study of brain injuries from common occurrences like motor vehicle accidents, falls, and in particular, sports-related concussions. 

CBS2’s Tim McNicholas alluded to the recent news regarding youth football and the innovative solutions this problem has called for. McNicholas presents the controversy of the New York Metropolitan Independent High School Football League deciding to remove a critical part of their league’s football games, the kickoff. Riverdale Athletic Director, John Pizzi, describes how the particular play in question, where both teams are instructed to run full speed from opposite ends of the field and tackle opposing players, causes an outsize number of injuries. For example, McNicholas references a study from 2015 claiming that during Ivy League football games, the “kickoff” play was responsible for “21% of concussions'' in only “6% of all plays.” 

After the league-wide “No-Kickoff Rule” was paired with a restriction on full contact practice, the league reported a drop from 2.4 to 1.6 concussions per team from 2019 to 2021. This, however, is not enough. According to the CBS broadcast, “some research shows about half of all concussions go unreported and undetected.” 

Professor Morrison and his colleagues set out to solve this problem with their start-up, NoMo Diagnostics, which is developing new football helmet technology for a live EEG measurement, a tool allowing teams to monitor their player’s brain activity in real time. Hoping to eventually partner with helmet manufacturers, Professor Morrison explains the utility of their proprietary tool, saying, “somebody on the sideline is able to make a call and get them pulled out and get them the treatment they need.” 

Professor Morrison and NoMo diagnostics hope to use their technology to prevent detrimental brain injuries for the foreseeable future.


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