Millions of young athletes get concussions each year and 50% go undiagnosed, leading to brain injury. Impact detects these events early.

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Most concussions resulting from sports go diagnosed either because the player doesn't recognize the symptoms, or because they are encouraged to "play through" the pain. Most traumatic brain injuries from concussions occur because the patient isn't taken out of the situation.

Impact is a device the size of a dime and is powered by a small coin cell. It runs at an extremely low power so that the battery doesn't need replacing often. The small size allows the device to be concealed in sports equipment like football helmets. After a player comes off the field and takes their helmet off, a trainer can see if the LED is blinking, which indicates the acceleration threshold was tripped and the player should be screened for a concussion. A complete data log can be downloaded after the game for further analysis.

Concussion details:

The threshold of acceleration that corresponds to a concussion can be set by the user. There are various numbers that appear in the literature that are likely to result in a concussion. To download the raw data off of the device, a "docking station" with pogo pins is used to make contact with the test points located on the back of the device, just below the battery. This saves the cost and space of a connector.

  • 1 × ATTiny85 Microprocessors, Microcontrollers, DSPs / ARM, RISC-Based Microcontrollers
  • 1 × W25Q80BV Memory ICs / FLASH Memory
  • 1 × LIS331HH Semiconductors and Integrated Circuits / Misc. Semiconductors and Integrated Circuits

  • Enclosure experiments

    Hunter Scott08/11/2015 at 17:31 0 comments

    If this thing is going to be stuffed in helmets or other equipment, it needs some kind of enclosure to protect the electronics from moisture and dirt. I used a material from Smooth-On called XTC-3D to finish a 3D print recently (which is what that material is designed for), and I think it may work for coating electronics too.

    I tried it on a test PCB with no parts populated, since I don't want to pot the one that I'm hacking on, since I need to be able to probe traces and pads. I know that there are potting materials made specifically for electronics, but this stuff is pretty easy to get, a little bit goes a long way, so it's cheap, and we'll see if it works well.

  • Assembling V2

    Hunter Scott08/11/2015 at 16:57 0 comments

    Here's V2, fabbed and assembled. It came in slightly larger than V1, but not by much. It uses the same 6 pads for programming and reading out the EEPROM. This is a 2 layer board, and the only reason it's not smaller is because of the routing. If I made a 4 layer version, I could probably cut the size in half. Although at this point, I don't know if there would be much to gain from going even smaller.

  • Version 2

    Hunter Scott08/11/2015 at 16:51 0 comments

    I decided to make some changes to the parts I'm using.

    I switched the old ATTiny85 to the larger ATTiny2313. The footprint is actually smaller, since it's a QFN part, and there's more I/O, which makes it easier to program and solves the problems in the last version. I also ditched a few discretes that I didn't really need. I also changed the battery to a rechargable Li-ion battery, which makes the whole thing a little thinner and that way you don't need to worry about replacing the battery, only recharging it. The accelerometer and EEPROM are the same.

  • Tasks left to do

    Hunter Scott05/09/2015 at 16:38 2 comments

    For simplicity, an LED is used to indicate if the acceleration threshold has been passed. One design decision I've been contemplating is adding a small radio so that trainers and doctors can immediately determine if a concussion has occurred. This will reduce the battery life, increase the cost, and increase the complexity though. I would also probably have to switch from the ATTiny85 to something like CC430 that has a microcontroller and radio built in if I didn't want to grow the size much. So I'm not sure if I'll do that or not. Maybe I'll make two versions, one with a radio and one without and see which works better.

    I still need to build the programming/data download jig. This will probably be a little 3D printed, hinged thing with pogo pins on it so the device can be clamped down in it.

    There's also a functional problem I need to fix in the current iteration. The accelerometer changes the impedance of the lines going into the ATTiny85 for programming, which means you can't both program the chip and have the accelerometer populated. You have to first populate the Tiny, program it, and then populate the accelerometer. So I need to play around a bit to fix that design problem.

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hassanpayoneer0 wrote 09/20/2023 at 06:34 point

be a sports lover as you are car lover explore volleyball game

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conklinnick wrote 07/01/2015 at 18:12 point

As someone who has suffered a TBI in my early teens this is a huge step in the right direction.  I was asked to keep skiing after the worst hit, which blew a gopro adhesive mount straight off my helmet (unloaded, did not have camera attached).  These are designed to stay on race cars going 100+ MPH.  Because no one warned me I was back skiing in a week only to fracture my back and hit my head again.

Great project.

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Sophi Kravitz wrote 05/13/2015 at 20:21 point

such a good idea!

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kingofkya wrote 05/11/2015 at 21:56 point

What about a bit banged fm or am rf link? Maybe the receiver could be as simple as a am/fm radio with the volume turned up. To hear a tone.

Ir coudl be a cheap option too:)

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Hunter Scott wrote 05/13/2015 at 02:22 point

Great idea! Someone even got NTSC video to transmit with an ATTiny, so that technique is quite extendable.

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pete.douma wrote 05/11/2015 at 18:47 point

I coach football for kids ages 10-12. What a coach needs is way to tell how bad the impact was. The hardest thing to determine is how bad the impact was after a kid complains or you see him get hit. Even if the device is a throw away after its gone off  it is worth it.

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Hunter Scott wrote 05/13/2015 at 02:25 point

All the accelerometer data is stored locally, so magnitude could definitely be read off. The idea is that you could set a limit for when the alarm goes off (could be lower for younger players) and then either synchronously or asynchronously see exactly how hard they were hit. Kingofkya's suggestion above might be a good way to inform coaches in real time how hard the player was hit.

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Adam wrote 05/11/2015 at 13:11 point

For my small designs where I did not want to add a programming header on the final board, I would program the micro before I reflowed it.  But the firmware has to be finialized this solution is really only for production and not development.  They sell pretty cheap SOIC adaptors all over. Here is one from ebay for example 

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Peter Walsh wrote 05/11/2015 at 05:39 point

Regarding the ATTiny85 impedance issue - do you have a schematic we could look over?

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dmopalmer wrote 05/11/2015 at 05:30 point

Instead of radio, have a piezo beeper.  If he gets hit hard, everyone can hear it.  (If he gets hit moderately hard, and he's the only one who can hear something ringing, he should still be pulled.)

You can probably fix the programability problem by putting resistors (probably few hundred ohms, work it out from the data sheets) on the data/clock lines between the AT and the acclerometer.  Drive the programming pins firmly enough on ATTiny85 side of each resistor and the accelerometer won't be able to interfere, but won't be damaged.  You may have to remove protection resistors from your programmer, or even add buffers, but keep an eye on the specs and it should work.

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zakqwy wrote 05/07/2015 at 20:55 point

Also, seems like a great candidate for the Hackaday Prize!

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zakqwy wrote 05/07/2015 at 20:54 point

This is a fantastic idea. What accelerometer chip are you using? How have you determined the 'concussion G-loading threshold'? What's the protocol for data log download?

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