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NFL tech competition winners reduce concussions and heal with light

They're uncommon solutions to very real problems in football.
Jon Fingas, @jonfingas
February 2, 2019
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Curtis Compton/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP

The Super Bowl is almost here, and that means the NFL has picked the winners of its partly tech-focused 1st and Future competition. The main $50,000 prize for its Innovations to Advance Health and Safety competition is TopSpin's namesake TopSpin360, a helmet-based training device that helps reduce concussions (a serious problem for the NFL as of late) by increasing neck strength. All you have to do is spin your head -- the rotating weight on top generates centripetal force you counteract with your neck muscles. It's also Bluetooth-connected to help guide your training sessions.

The $20,000 runner-up, Solius, aims to speed healing by subjecting athletes to narrow spectrums of light that foster the growth of hormones and peptides. In theory, football players will recover that much faster from injuries and might improve their performance if they're deficient.

These aren't huge prizes, and it's easy to raise questions about these solutions. Technology can reduce the likelihood of concussions, for rinstance but it won't completely eliminate them (at least not in the near future) or address whether or not that risk is worthwhile in the first place. However, developments like this could improve player health within the existing system.

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