Rugby champions consult engineers at A&M about concussion sensors

rugby played engage in a scrum

Image: Wikimedia Commons

The Queensland Maroon, Australia’s eight-time rugby champions, were looking for was someone to help them develop a technology that would allow their players to power sensors contained in their jersey.

The idea behind the sensors is to monitor a player’s hydration or the level of G-force they experience when taking a hit, a key component in determining if a player may have suffered a concussion.

The Maroons started working with Queensland University of Technology, a research university in Brisbane, Australia. When team officials decided to inquire about furthering the sensor technology, they asked researchers at Queensland whom they should contact.

The overwhelming response from the researchers, despite none of them ever working with the university, was Texas A&M.

That led the Maroons to contact Jaime Grunlan, a Texas A&M mechanical engineering professor who has conducted research in polymer composites. Grunlan enlisted the expertise of fellow mechanical engineering professor Choongho Yu, who conducts research in energy harvesting and cooling as well as thermoelectrics.

According to Grunlan, the sensors they are working to develop are polymer or plastic-based thermoelectric materials that can be applied as coatings to fabrics.

“When the body heats up when working out, as long as there is a temperature gradient, it can drive electricity,” Grunlan said. “That electricity could power sensors built into a jersey of an athlete and supply power to transmit information to a computer. That can tell you about a person’s hydration level or the G-force they experienced from a hit.”

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