Sometimes it’s not only hope, courage or inspiration…how about innovation? How about innovation with a purpose, to save another human being?
The Sunday Series (23): How to Save A Life
It might just be the number one risk to your child who loves to play sports. A traumatic brain injury. It happens every day on sports fields across this nation, especially in games like football, lacrosse and hockey. One bad hit, one blow to the head can literally change a life, or possibly end one.
Have you ever stopped to think most football players in the world are under the age of 14? Not everyone makes the high school or college team and even fewer make it to the big-time, the NFL. But one big hit can mean there’s one less player to go after a dream…or even the chance to live a full life, robbed of that opportunity by an invisible threat inside their head, a concussion, or worse a traumatic or fatal brain injury.
Greg Merrill is in business, and in the business of doing well, but his motivation is doing good. Greg calls himself a problem solver and he’s been doing it for years now. Back in the early 90’s, Greg created a company to help doctors simulate minimally invasive surgeries, so they could have a track to run on, instead of diving into what had then had become a revolution, but one for which doctors had received little or no training in medical school. Greg’s company and his simulators helped bring them up to speed and became a leader in medical training.
Then there was the problem of child obesity. As soon as his own boys were born Greg was in-tune with the epidemic of unfit kids and video games. Greg realized you can’t force kids to stop playing, so why not get them physically active at the same time. Before Wii ever hit the market, Greg had started a company to simulate exercise during video games. But in the midst of raising capital to launch with some major companies, the great recession hit and his idea, with lack of funding, was shut down.
No matter, if you talk to Greg Merrill you realize he’s a man who will not be deterred and not give up, he’s a thinker, he takes action and he wants to give back. He started helping a company which assisted the military with brain injury assessments, figuring out which soldiers in battle needed to be evacuated and which could fight. The experience led him to start thinking about sports and children and maybe the number one threat today out on the field – head injuries.
Don’t kid yourself, your kid is at risk. And no, stopping them from playing is not the answer, never is. But it is all about which child to assess and which to allow to keep playing. Greg’s vision is to eliminate brain injuries in sports. With Brain Sentry, he’s looking at stopping the acute brain injury of second-impact syndrome, where a child has a concussion, but continues to play, with the symptoms ignored or undiagnosed, leading to brain swelling and death. The other issue is a chronic or dramatic brain injury over a long period of time, leading to issues down the road with brain function or even chronic health issues.
If you read the paragraphs above, you will know this is not a commercial, it’s all about education. In most cases, the young sports teams are coached by parent volunteers, not medical experts. It’s a great joy to coach your son or daughter’s team, or even other children, and it does wonders for self-esteem, and for lessons in teamwork for still-developing minds. But those minds are threatened when someone receives, or even gives a hit to the head. It’s tough for children to diagnose themselves and even tougher for coaches and parents to know when it’s OK to let the child play and when to take them out to be assessed. As Greg says, “there is nothing more important than your child’s brain and it’s difficult to know if he or she has had a concussion and whether they should be pulled from the game.”
Brain Sentry changes all that. It’s pretty simple, a helmet-mounted sensor helps identify players who should be assessed for a concussion. When a child takes a hard blow to the head, a red light starts blinking, as a warning sign to assess the child for a head injury. The goal is to help prevent further injury, or even death. The sensor is simple to use with nothing to maintain and no batteries to charge.
It’s important and worthy of space here. Among 38 million boys and girls that participate in organized youth sports and 135 million participants (ages 6+) in team sports in the U.S., concussions are one of the most commonly reported injuries. The majority of fatal sports-related brain injuries occur to those less than 18 years old. Less than 50% of high school football players report their concussions and nearly all of the cases of SIS (second-impact syndrome, which can be fatal), have occurred in athletes younger than 18 years old.
Now, from Pop Warner teams to Division One football programs like LSU, the sensors are being used, concussions are being caught early and strategies about tackling are being changed. The bottom line is lives can be saved. https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=F_CJywYA9E8
Sometimes the human spirit, heart and mind work in perfect synergy. Greg Merrill has found a way to focus on our most precious gifts and protect them and his effort is worthy of space here on this blog. No one pitched this idea or product to me, I heard about it and decided to take action.
It’s action, not reaction that makes a difference and in this case could literally save a life.
Until next time, thanks for taking the time.
(for more information on Brain Sentry, click on the links in this blog post, or simply go to www.brainsentry.com)
(to learn how Brain Sentry is affecting college sports: https://owa-cj.ft.newyorklife.com/owa/redir.aspx?C=J36hhrCWMkWqkGz4M0M-aOqDD7z_IdEIiAzV44W-WseSplBGLqB1j3j7_SwRcJBo_HUb6763zeY.&URL=http%3a%2f%2fwww.theneworleansadvocate.com%2fsports%2f8727529-171%2faccelerometers-give-lsu-football-a)
Mark Brodinsky, Author, Blogger, Financial Services
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