Stanford BioEngineers Work to Understand and Prevent Concussions
Tom Spendlove posted on September 09, 2016 |
David Camarillo presents his work in the fields of consussions and concussion prevention.

David Camarillo played football for ten years and knows that his helmet was hit hundreds if not thousands of times. His greatest injuries, however, came from concussions sustained while riding bikes. He says that bicycle accidents are the leading causes of sports related concussions for kids. As a bioengineer Camarillo works to develop concussion prevention methods, and he presents his methods and work in the TED Talk Why helmets don’t prevent concussions – and what might.

Helmets are designed to prevent skull fractures, and helmets do that job well. Concussions are a totally different story. A graphic video produced by the CDC and NFL shows what happens during a concussion and the ways that the brain can bump against the skull walls. The video also shows damage on the outer surface of the brain after the concussion has passed. Camarillo proposes the idea that the brain doesn’t move as much as experts say, the cranial vault doesn’t have much room for the brain to move and the cerebral spinal fluid acts as a protective layer. The brain also doesn’t move as one solid rigid unit as the video shows. Camarillo envisions the brain more like jello, sloshing around in the head instead of bouncing off of the inner skull walls.

Using his new assumptions as design guidelines, Camarillo and his team at Stanford have developed a mouthguard with accelerometers and gyroscopes attached. The mouthguard fits over an athlete’s teeth for a rigid connection to the skull. The Stanford football team acted as concussion test dummies and gave Camarillo a data set.

This is a great talk showing the medical research and product design and development required when creating new bioengineering technologies. Camarillo collaborates with Hovding, an inflatable bicycle helmet company that we’ve covered here at, and talks about the Consumer Product Safety Commission and how they test bicycle helmets in the United States. As football season starts once again it’s very interesting to see that Camarillo is convinced that by the time his one year old daughter is of age that concussion preventing helmets will be commercially available.

(Images courtesy of and

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