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Updated: Sun, 10 Nov 2013 14:56:19 GMT | By CBC News, cbc.ca

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



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

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 — combined.

"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.

Each helmet contains four of the small plastic devices, which players say fit easily inside their helmets.

The Calgary Stampeders have been using helmet sensors for several years now, ringing the insides of players 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 that more schools should follow suit.

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

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