In March 2018, Rowans law was passed into law in Ontario Canada.
Rowan’s law came into effect because Rowan Stringer a beautiful, young, active 17-year-old girl, received a brain impact whilst playing rugby one afternoon.
No one noticed the impact, (as is the case 90% of the time) and Rowan (like most teenagers, did not tell her coach or parents). Rowan, unfortunately played rugby again a few days later, and was tackled to the ground, where she hit her head- Rowan heartbreakingly passed away!
Rowans parents petitioned the Ontario government, and a commission subsequently generated 49 recommendations with regards to concussion. These recommendations were passed into law in March and “Rowans law” the protocol associated with the management of a concussive incident came into effect. Rowan is not the only child to have died from sustaining a second brain impact or concussion. She is not the only who “did not report it”, and she won’t be the last! But, she could be!
Today every sport, club, coach and most active sportsmen/women have either themselves suffered a concussion or know of someone who has. Many will know, that there is defined “protocol” based on “recommendations by the medical profession” that needs to be followed.
Our question is- IS A ONE SIZE PROTOCOL GOOD ENOUGH?
No matter the sport, each and every one, has a document or a page on their website dedicated to concussion, and what the symptoms are. Some may even go so far as to tell you about a SCAT test, and BASELINE testing. They may even include a copy of their procedure document, stating an “injured player must be pulled from the area/playing field, ice”, allowed to sit quietly for a few minutes, asked some basic questions, like: “Are you nauseous, does your head hurt, how many fingers am I holding up?”
In addition, a player may be told to “go home”, “rest”, “take a headache tablet”, “go see a doctor” if they feel “off”, and do not come back to practice without a DR’s note, “signing off” on the impact.
But again, our questions is, “IS THIS ENOUGH”?
Research tells us, that 90% of all brain impacts go unnoticed, unreported, untreated and unmanaged, so where does this “protocol” put these 90%? How does the protocol actually protect Rowan? (who, like most people, will not mention a “blow to the head”, believing it is “insignificant”)
Well, IT DOES NOT! Nor, do the protocols take into account many of the factors that influence the severity of a brain impact, like, age, gender, hormones, sport, fitness level.
The One size fits all policy, may be “helpful” for a 25 year old man, but a 8 year old boy, who communicates with a different vocabulary at 8, than 25, this protocol, could be just as dangerous as none!
We are not saying that “no protocol” is a good idea, not at all. But, what we are saying is, that a brain impact, is not “a one size fits all” problem, so the protocol should not be a “one size fits all” solution.
The problem was not so much as Rowan had an impact, but more specifically, she had an impact that was not noticed!
First, we need to stop the unnoticed brain impacts (which SportFitz have done with the Fitz wearable brain impact monitor), then gather the much-needed information with regards to all impacts, across all sports, all ages, and then, create a unique protocol best suited to age, gender and sport. One that will have the right benefit for the player, no matter their age, gender, sport!
Canadian StartUp SportFitz entered the $150 billion wearables market in 2017 to address the #1 undiagnosed health challenge in the world, CONCUSSION. More than 90% of brain impacts go unnoticed, undiagnosed and untreated, the result is fatal.
In response to Rowan’s Law, the first concussion law in Canada mandating protocols to protect youth in sport, SportFitz designed a 1” wearable technology to stream brain impact and biometric data in real-time to notify the user of impacts to the brain and physical metrics before, during and after an impact.
SportFitz uses artificial intelligence with real-time measurements of the location, direction and force of impact, big data analytics and embedded organizational protocols to predict the probability of a concussion and recommend immediate action.
Our goal is to make it mandatory for all youth under the age of 18 to wear our device for all sports and to be notified in real-time when their brain receives an impact, report it, diagnose it and treat it.
Generating the largest data base on brain impact by comparing demographics like sex, age, sport, performance level, geography and climate, allows us to impact athletic performance, healthcare and insurance.
We are currently field testing with international sports organizations and research institutes, securing licensing agreements in Canada, USA, UK, South Africa, the Caribbean and India.
Youth, Ice Hockey and Serious Injury
The most common injury in youth ice hockey, is concussion. These injuries can have serious life impacting consequences. Concussion is all too common, and is generally, very, under reported. Body checking is widely recognized as a major cause of concussions. While some of the leaders in the elite hockey leagues, in particular Gary Bettman, deny the association of Hockey and Concussion; the fact stands (not fake news!), that the rate of concussions occurring in ice hockey are higher than any other sport – across the levels of play.
In Canada, in recognition of this risk, in all regulated ice hockey body checking is banned for under 13 years of age (PeeWee and younger), Bantam age is the start of body checking. The Canadian Academy of Sports and Exercise Medicine recommend eliminating body checking for all ages, except for elite players aged 16 and over. Hockey Canada’s position is that checking skills are critical to the game of hockey, and that players must master all aspects of the checking game to become complete players. Their belief is that checking benefits player development, this position is countered by the US Minor Hockey organization where it is felt that checking distracts from the development of other skills such as stick work and skating. The count of game related injuries associated with body checking, triple in PeeWee aged players as they start to check.
Youth are known to be more vulnerable to concussion and have more serious long and short term effects from concussion, yet today, most injuries remain unreported. Devices, such as SportFitz stand to address this and bring concussive events into a place where they can be measured, monitored and then maintained. Young athletes with concussion may experience fatigue, inattention, lack of concentration, memory loss and headaches, and subtle cognitive deficits that may persist for a whole year and beyond for some youths. Repeat concussions are a large risk factor for Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), where symptoms extend to depression, suicide, memory loss, behavior and personality changes, early dementia and motor neuron disease.
Sub-concussive impacts cause silent invisible damage to the brains of many young athletes, these nearly always go un-noticed and untreated. Technology such as SportFitz can bring these events into the domain of treatment.
Getting back to hockey, it is an aggressive, high speed game played on a hard surface and boards which presents danger to players of all ages. Inside hockey, body checking being moved to the older aged players has reduced the incidence of concussions and elimination of body checking has shown to be, so far, been the only effective way to make the game safer for youth players.
Onward and Upward, this all makes contact sports pretty intimidating and worrying for those involved, but wait, sports play a vital and colorful role in the development of our youth. The key is to play hard and play safe, and use information and knowledge to make decisions not innuendo and rash judgement on how our youth play. The use of SportFitz technology, can act as a shield for the brain, in hockey we wear shin pads to protect our shins, chest protectors for our chest, helmets for our heads – yet nothing for our brains. Now is the time to use this technology to allow our youth to learn the skills of ice hockey and maintain their brain health – the damaging effects of concussions are cumulative and can tarnish youth for the rest of their lives.
IDEABOOST and We Are Wearables have announced the six founders who will go on to pitch at the Female Founders Hardware Cup competition.
Hosted at WWTO’s Women & Wearables event, the six founders will present their startups in front of judges including wearables pioneer, Kate Hartman, and tech blogger Casie Stewart.
The Female Founders Hardware Cup is part of the national Hardware Cup Competition hosted by Pittsburgh-based accelerator Alphagear. Other regional competitions include Osaka and Boston, with planned competitions in India and Israel.
Toronto was the only regional competition which decided to focus entirely on female founders. The winner of the Canadian Cup will be sent to Pittsburgh to compete in the National Cup with other regional winners for $50,000.
The semi-finalists of the Female Founders Hardware Cup include:
- Emily Rudow of Oneiric (Toronto, Ontario): Offers Oneiric Hockey enhanced base layer hockey pants for children to increase protection and safety.
- Ann Poochareon of Little Robot Friends (Toronto, Ontario): Develops programmable robots to teach kids how to code.
- Alex Roeper of Penta Medical (Kitchener, Ontario): Develops a medical wearable Helios which monitors the healing of soft tissues.
- Diane Matays of SportFitz (Waterloo, Ontario): Created a concussion monitoring wearable to keep athletes safe.
- Natalia Mykhaylova from WeavAir (Toronto, Ontario): Developed functional, modular fabrics and accessories that monitor, purify and condition the air.
- Krissy White of Zero Infinity (Wakefield, Quebec): Create mixed reality entertainment experiences.
BetaKit is a proud media partner of We Are Wearables