Calgary football team 1st in Canada with high-tech helmets

A Calgary high school football team is the first in Canada to go high-tech in order to better detect concussions.

More concussions detected by team this season than reported by all local teams combined

A sensor measures the impact of hits to the head. (CBC)

A Calgary high school football team is the first in Canada to go high-tech in order to better detect concussions.

As part of a pilot project funded by the University of Alberta, all players on the Ernest Manning High School football team had sensors installed in their helmets that measure the impact of hits. So far, they've caught more concussions than other local teams have reported all year.

"In previous years, we would see two or three and the kids would always want to go back into play, and we would never know as coaches, and as sports medicine teachers and as staff, when it's appropriate to do so," said Ernest Manning coach Wayde Bymon. 

This season, the sensors detected 15 concussions.

Tablet computers on the sidelines use the sensor information to help sports therapists assess each injury, and determine whether a player should be benched.

Players say the sensors fit easily inside each of their helmets.

The Calgary Stampeders have been using helmet sensors for several years now — lining the insides of player's helmets to measure the impact of hits to the head.

They were the first team in the CFL to do so, and each helmet used by the Stampeders costs about $1,000 compared to $300 for a standard helmet.

Two years ago, University of Alberta researchers placed sensors in the helmets of peewee hockey players in Edmonton to measure concussions and also invited the Saskatoon Blades, a junior hockey team, to wear the sensors during training camp.

However, Ernest Manning is the first high school in Canada to use them on a football team.

Ryan Short, one of the players on Ernest Manning's team, believes more schools should follow suit.

"The safety is more important than the playing time and the wins," he said.


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.