Athens Students Create Concussion Detecting Helmet

Participating students work on the challenge, creating a a concussion detecting football helmet prototype.

Participating students work on the challenge, creating a a concussion detecting football helmet prototype.

Photos by Logan Caldwell

Photos by Logan Caldwell

Participating students work on the challenge, creating a a concussion detecting football helmet prototype.

Tomas Pierce, Photography Editor

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The wearable device challenge is a task funded by the National Science Foundation, where students design and create a wearable device to monitor the health of a human or animal based on disease transmission and environmental factors. This year, Athens Drive sent a team of students to the Tally Student Union at NC State to compete during the school day April 17.

“We used Arduino uno technology and force resistant sensors to make a helmet that can detect when a player has been hit too hard, then relays the information to an app and tells you to take them out of the game,” said Ibraheem Wahdan, a sophomore involved with the wearable device challenge.

The students used the engineering design process to create a wearable device. They ended up creating a helmet that could detect if a football player experienced a concussion.

“I led the brainstorm and created the template, made the sketch, and assisted with the programming and building of the helmet,” said Wahdan.

They learned to use modern technologies to solve problems. This included programming, building the device, and testing their prototype.

“I learned the basics of how to use Arduino software and hardware, as well as how to practically apply the engineering design process  method in engineering,” said Wahdan.

The students did well in the competition, placing fourth place overall. A group from Enloe took home the winning prize.

“I feel that we did great but were a little rushed. If we’d had more time we would’ve been able to add more things like a hydration sensor,” said Wahdan.


“I think that the facility of Talley was an excellent place to hold the competition. I even saw my brother and other family/friends that are State students there,” said Wahdan.

In addition to making a working prototype, these students also made a poster about their creation. According to a study conducted by the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, wearable devices are increasing in popularity.

For my team, I was in charge of the advertising/marketing aspect of the project. For the project, we had to make an advertisement for the device that would be able to be accessible to the target market. So, we decided to make a website that we could post to social media sites so our target audience would know about our project,” said Jaden Abrams, sophomore at Athens Drive High School.

There are already football helmets on the market that claim to detect if a player is experiencing a concussion. They are commonly marketed as a source of additional information to coaches and players.

“I do think this has real world application, especially if used from the start with young players. I think it would serve to inform coaches and other decision makers on what types of hits cause the most damage or potential damage and perhaps provide with new ways to coach students to avoid such. I also feel it would provide better days when changing rules,” said Sharon Cole, a Social Studies teacher at River Oaks Middle School in Raleigh.

Newer helmets are designed to flex and absorb impacts. Some also contain sensors to detect forces applied to players’ heads.

“Because players are starting tackle football at a younger age, they have a higher likelihood of experiencing traumatic brain injuries earlier in their careers. Accelerators could play a crucial role in testing the efficacy of safety equipment and contact football coaching strategies. Accelerators can also be using to research the impact of certain rule changes in the league (i.e. moving 10 yards  for kickoffs),” said Ashley Pompey, an English teacher at River Oaks Middle School.

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