COULD the humble mouthguard (pictured) hold the answer to dealing with the issue of concussion in sport?

On his recent trip to Brisbane to promote and coach gridiron, Stanford University offensive assistant coach Joe Ashfield revealed his institution was leading the way in the ongoing issue of head knocks in contact sport.

And Stanford, rated the third-best college in the world by The Times Higher Education World Reputation Rankings for 2014, has adopted an unlikely source to measure the data.

Every gridiron player who dons the famous Cardinal jersey also wears special mouthguards fitted with computer chips.

Those chips measure all the minute details regarding every head knock.

"That chip measures the concussive force of contact," Ashfield told APN.

"After every practice they'll drop their mouthguards into a bag, and the people working the study will analyse the data - the force of the hit, how he got hit, and the direction of the hit.

"And then they'll work with our training staff and say 'this player has a concussion - let's see the forces that were happening when that happened'".

Joe Ashfield
Joe Ashfield


Despite his college leading the way in concussion research, Ashfield said he was impressed with the progress Australia had made in concussion prevention in the NRL ranks.

"I think rugby league has a great rule about how you can't launch yourself at an attacker," Ashfield said.

"You have to bring your arms through and wrap them up, and you can't tackle around the head," he added.

"I think if gridiron adopted those rules, it'd go a long way to making our game safer too."

An NRL spokesman said this year's concussion laws - where players must leave the field for a cognitive test after copping a significant head knock - were working well.

"The NRL believes we have made significant progress in dealing with head knocks so far this year," he said.

"Coaches and players are taking the rules seriously and we are seeing players being taken from the field and assessed. In the past they may have stayed on the field."

The spokesman said at the end of the season the NRL would consult further with specialists in the area and look at any other measures which may improve the system even further.

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