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David Stegon was a staff reporter for FedScoop and StateScoop from 2011-2014.
The National Football League is looking to the U.S. Army for ways to help protect players from traumatic brain injury by using the same sensors the military currently uses to evaluate concussive events with its own helmets, the department said.
Lt. Col. Frank Lozano, product manager of soldier protection with Program Executive Office Soldier, said there are similarities between the head injuries suffered by football players and those suffered by soldiers.
“The NFL is very interested in having a similar type of capability that would aid doctors in diagnosing and understanding football players’ experience of concussions and blunt force trauma on the football field so that they can better offer medical aid at the appropriate time to those players,” he said.
Officials from the NFL and the Army meet periodically to discuss new ways to prevent and treat TBI, as well as to swap information and treatment tactics, Lozano said.
“A lot of soldiers are football fans and a lot of football players and teams in the NFL are large supporters of the armed forces,” he said. “So it’s kind of a natural fit.”
The helmet sensors are used to measure the severity of impact to a soldier’s head after a concussive event such as an explosion. That data can be collected and used in research to further develop an understanding of the relationship between concussive events and traumatic brain injury.
Lozano said 45,000 sensor helmets have been ordered, but progress in reducing injury will take time to occur since the program only began in November. At this point, about 10,000 helmets have been introduced to troops in theater.