ROCKLEDGE, Fla, - On any fall Friday in Central Florida, high school football rules the night. Many players play because they like the contact. They do not shy away.
One recent Friday night, Rockledge High School defensive back Justin Weaver is dazed by a blow, but doesn't take himself out of the game.
Rockledge trainer Ian Stites knows he needs to check Weaver for a concussion right away thanks to sensors in his helmet that measure the force of the hit on his brain.
This new technology allows Stites to track each player in real time on a computer.
"The level of this impact, 84gs with the rotation that's pretty significant... That's a pretty good hit," said Stites.
The arrows on the screen mark how many hits Weaver took to the head and where. A highlighted arrow marks the blow that's the cause for concern.
The good news is that Weaver did not suffer a head injury and he went back into the game.
"I think back to when I played and shouldn't have played," said Rockledge coach Larry Laskowski.
In his day, Laskowski said a blow to the head was a badge of honor, not a reason to come out of the game.
But those days are gone.
"The sensors don't cure anything, but I think maybe it's made the kids even more aware. Where they're not so apt to lead with their head and they're playing better technique-wise," said Laskowski.
Stites remembers his high school playing days thinking about the concussion he suffered, and his recovery time every time he evaluates a player.
"I want to win, but first things first. I'm going to take care of the kids first," said Stites.
He and the Rockledge players are working with the University of South Florida to test the sensors.
The system will record every hit from the start of training camp through the final game of the season. Then, the players will be evaluated.
A new study released Wednesday reports high school athletes are twice as likely as college or professional athletes to suffer a concussion. The study expects more than 250,000 high school students will suffer a head injury this school year.
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