Loudoun School Board Still Says No to Helmet Sensors

By: Allan M. Siegel

A few months ago we wrote about how Loudoun County parents were pushing for the school district to adopt the use of helmet sensors to monitor the impact football players were experiencing when playing. Loudoun County Public Schools had previously said no, but the parents independently organized an effort to place sensors on the helmets before being forced to remove them during a practice. Interestingly, a football coach who had advocated for the sensors within the school system was fired shortly before the season started for unspecified reasons but continued to receive a coaching stipend from the school.Helmet Sensor

Following these previous rejections, the parents switched from pushing for outside-the-helmet sensors to ones that are placed inside the helmet and certified by a national safety organization. Parents were even willing to place and monitor the data or alerts themselves, rather than requiring coaches or school staff to do it.

Unfortunately, at a November 5, meeting of the Loudon School Board's Health, Safety and Transportation Committee, the panel decided unanimously to reject any helmet sensors. The school committee and spokesperson even seemed to completely discount the push by the parents, stating "nobody, other than a small group of parent at one of our 14 high schools, has asked for sensors." This ignores the reality that 100 parents had signed a petition requesting the sensors, and one of the leaders of the parents offered to submit an additional 1,000 signatures and had raised money to pay for the sensors.

While Loudoun County continues to reject this new technology that could help prevent or better understand concussions, 207 football programs across the country, including six high school teams in Virginia have adopted these sensors in hopes of better identifying and managing head injuries.

At Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata, & Siegel, P.C., we understand the complexities of concussions and traumatic brain injury. Partner Joseph Cammarata is a founder of the Brain Injury Association of DC which is dedicated to the research, prevention, and advocacy for brain injuries. He also drafted the Athletic Concussion Protection Act of 2011, which implemented return to play guidelines to protect athletes 18 years old or younger in the District of Columbia. Similar laws and guidelines have been adopted in Virginia thanks to the tireless efforts of the Brain Injury Association of Virginia, and individuals like the parents in Loudon County. This sensor technology helmet could be a valuable tool to aid in the prevention of brain injuries from student athletes all the way up to the professional level.