Sports & Wellbeing Analytics (SWA) has today announced a landmark partnership with the Premier League, which will see the Swansea-based sports welfare technology company work with English football’s elite division on a study into head impacts in the sport.
The study, which will form part of the Premier League’s new action plan on head injuries and concussion, will involve an initial cohort of players from Liverpool FC’s U23, U18 and women’s teams and Manchester City’s U18s and women’s teams.
SWA will provide the teams with its bespoke PROTECHT mouthguards, which use integrated accelerometers and proximity sensors to precisely measure the frequency and intensity of all impacts that occur whilst heading the ball.
The innovative solution works using a chip placed in a custom fit mouthpiece, which then sends precise, objective surveillance data about the intensity of any collision or head impact that occurs on the field of play or during training. The data is sent in real-time to touchline staff, providing them with the necessary information to inform existing welfare and head injury protocols.
It is crucial that the technology takes the shape of a mouthpiece, as this fits into the upper jaw which is the only part of the body that cannot move independently of the skull. Similar solutions using GPS devices which fit onto clothing, hair or the skin have been proven to be less accurate for this reason.
The pioneering technology, which has been independently validated by both Stanford University and Swansea University, is already being used in rugby union by Harlequins, Gloucester Rugby, Leicester Tigers, Ospreys and Bristol Bears Women.
David Allen, Executive Director at SWA, commented: “We’re delighted to be teaming up with the Premier League to support their efforts to better understand, monitor and manage head impacts within football.
“The issue of head injury and concussion in sport – and in football in particular – has rightly become a hugely important one in recent months and we believe our PROTECHT solution can play a vital role in improving player welfare and futureproofing the beautiful game.”
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Premier League Football Press Release below:
Premier League to launch research studies to inform heading in training guidelines
The Premier League will begin two studies to identify the forces involved in heading footballs.
The outcome of these studies will inform guidelines for heading in training at professional and adult football levels which are expected to be implemented ahead of the 2021/22 season.
The guidelines will be agreed by the Premier League, The FA, EFL, WSL, LMA and the PFA, in consultation with clubs, players, managers and medics.
An initial cohort of players from Liverpool FC’s U23, U18 and women’s teams and Manchester City’s U18s and women’s teams will participate in one of the Premier League’s studies, which is being conducted with sports welfare technology company Sports & Wellbeing Analytics (SWA). Players will be provided with PROTECHT mouthguards, which will collect data to show how the force and frequency of impacts affect the brain and body. The equipment will be fitted with sensors to provide precise measurements and the data will be independently verified.
A second study is being conducted in partnership with Second Spectrum, the official tracking and analytics provider for the Premier League. This study will compare match-tracking data from the 2019/20 season with results from the mouthguard study.
The research projects are being undertaken by the Premier League on behalf of a subgroup of the Professional Football Negotiating and Consultative Committee (PFNCC).
Premier League Chief Executive Richard Masters said: “The Premier League’s focus is to make the game as safe as possible for all players.
“We are working with our partners across football to achieve this and the research studies we are undertaking are just one example of our commitment to this important issue. We hope the results of this project will contribute to the development of practical guidelines for the professional and adult game in this country.”
It was also confirmed today the Premier League has joined Alzheimer’s Society’s Sport United Against Dementia campaign, which seeks to unite the collective power and reach of sport to make a difference to people affected by dementia. It also aims to generate funds and awareness of the condition across research, community and support. The Premier League’s Executive Director Bill Bush will sit on the Board of the campaign.