Product Review: CheckLight Concussion Sensor

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Check concussions with CheckLight, a device from Reebok

 

By Christopher Costa

 

Since the controversy of head trauma—namely concussions—has hit the forefront in the hockey world of late, companies like Reebok have been designing products that will increase head trauma awareness. Hospitals, doctors, and exercise physiologists all agree that players, parents, and coaches need to become more conscious of brain health.

All too often, adults and kids experience a collision that could impair the brain. The problem is that individuals have been unknowingly putting themselves at risk by a lack of education, or utilization of technology that could prevent further injury by their returning to the game too soon. The Reebok CHECKLIGHT (named CES 2014 Best of Innovations) provides hockey players with an inside track, using predictive impact measures that ultimately determine what might result in concussion or similar brain injury.

Unfortunately, no product is the end-all, be-all preventative measure that we all hope for. What the Reebok CHECKLIGHT does is provide players (and their parents) with peace of mind. According to Dan Sarro, of Reebok Sports, the CHECKLIGHT provides, “consistent, reliable, actionable impact data.” What does that mean to the consumer?

The CHECKLIGHT essentially is not a concussion predictor or preventer. You may ask, “Why should I use one if it can’t predict concussions?” Every athlete is different. Some can sustain more severe blows with little or no occurrence of symptoms, while others aren’t so lucky. Concussion produces a magnitude of symptoms, ranging from nausea to headache to blurred vision, but further testing is still required for a proper diagnosis. Headaches can produce similar symptoms and not be concussion related. A built-in sensor uses specific algorithms to measure G-forces, which are forces that act upon the body as a result of gravity. By measuring those forces, the CHECKLIGHT gives you three clear and understandable criteria for impact severity.

The three lights on the back of the CHECKLIGHT are your gauge. A green light means a less severe hit, a yellow indicates a moderate one, with red being indicative of a more severe impact. Again, these lights are not a concussion predictor, but they do give parents and coaching staff reasons to check impacts data of their players and children to ensure their safety. Any player who sustains a hit registering a yellow or red light should be examined by a trainer or doctor to ensure that returning to play is safe.

I’ve been wearing the CHECKLIGHT for a little over a month now while I play, and fortunately I haven’t sustained any kind of hit that would yield a red light; in fact, no yellow lights either. (If I had, there would have been no hesitation in getting myself checked out. While the game is highly competitive, there is no reason to risk your life for it.) Wearing a CHECKLIGHT ensures that you consciously take responsibility for your safety.

As for fit, I have a pretty large head, so I required an XL. Using the chart found on Reebok’s website provides you with accurate sizing. The skullcap should fit snugly on the head, but comfortably under your helmet. (I will suggest however that you use a Reebok helmet as well. I tested it with a Bauer 4500, which is doable, but the Reebok 11k provided more comfort.) Turning the CHECKLIGHT on and off is a breeze, so even young children can handle it on their own. The sensor is fully removable, allowing you to wash the skullcap. Just plug the sensor into a USB charger and you’ll have hours of battery life. One thing to note, though, if you don’t use the CHECKLIGHT on a daily basis, make sure you keep it charged. It does have a tendency to drain the battery when not in use.

Another key feature is impact logging. So, every time you turn it on, you will be provided with a set of flashes that indicate the number of impacts in each zone (so no worries that players may try to hide a severe hit from coaches or parents!)

The bottom line: I’m very pleased with the feedback the CHECKLIGHT has provided me. Comfort, ease of use, and accuracy are key features required in sports, and the CHECKLIGHT certainly delivers. Likewise, Reebok is proud to provide athletes with an opportunity to increase injury awareness. During my conversation with Sarro, he was adamant that the real goal for Reebok was to open the mind of the consumer: To increase awareness that concussions and brain injuries should be taken seriously, and to provide a product that will aid its progress.

As both a player and strength and conditioning Coach, I think Reebok has definitely accomplished their goal with the CHECKLIGHT.

Christopher Costa is an ice hockey training specialist. Chris’s life has revolved around hockey, as a coach, player and official, for 22 years. His passion is to help elite hockey players achieve the highest level of performance. Additionally, Chris has worked with the Philadelphia Flyers organization. For more information, visit his website www.assistperformance.com, and contact him at chris@assistperformance.com.

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