In football, a tackle can supply 100 Gs of force or more, well above the amount that can cause a concussion and more than 10 times the force of an F‑16 jet roll maneuver. University of Florida (UF) researchers are using the helmets of Gator football players to help measure the force of on‑field hits to better understand and prevent concussions, and treat them before they cause lasting damage.

Dr. James Clugston (left) and Matt Graham of UF set up the HITS system.

The Head Impact Telemetry System (HITS) is being used to measure the impact, duration, and location of each hit football players take in real‑time through sensors placed in their helmets. Researchers will correlate the data they collect from the sensors with additional data from blood and magnetic resonance imaging tests to get a complete picture of concussions when they occur in athletes.

The system has already allowed the researchers to see that some players were putting their heads down during tackles, which is dangerous and increases their risk of concussion and cervical spine injury. The researchers also plan to use the system to track the number of hits players receive over time.