Concussion Coach

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Concussions can have a severe and lasting impact on individual, and while coaches and athletes alike are aware of this danger, many concussions continue to go unrecognized. In football especially, concussions occur regularly due to the contact nature of the sport. While better protection and more careful playing an be used to prevent players from getting concussions, it is just as important to diagnose and treat concussions that do occur. Most concussions deliver ~95 g's to the body, so by measuring the amount of force applied to a player's head, the likelihood of a concussion could be monitored and the player could be checked when enough force was applied to cause a concussion.

Team Members

Colton Farley
Darby Hakken
Emma Zastrow
Nathan Schmetter (TA)


A successful project will require:

1. Accelerometers be installed in a football helmet in a way that force can be detected in all directions

2. The encapsulation of the Arduino and any necessary battery packs and circuitry in the football helmet by creating a 3-D printed shell

3. Use an Arduino mini to detect forces capable of causing a concussion and transmitting the signal to an Arduino uno

4. Implementation of an LCD interface to transmit Arduino data from all players to coaches


1. Being able to sense force equally throughout the helmet instead of distinct points where the accelerometer is located
2. Learning how to program an arduino and using it effectively
3. Learning how to use CAD and 3D print
4. Coding an interface to show an up to date status of the players helmets
5. Understanding radio frequencies and learning how to implement them
5. Communication between arduinos

Gantt Chart




  • adafruit (LCD screen, aruino pro mini, and accelerometer) - $9.13
  • Sparkfun (RF module transmitter and receiver) - $5.74


Design and Solutions

Football Helmet
The football helmet is designed to detect any force applied to the payer's head. An initial concern was being able to detect force in all directions and in all locations of the helmet. However, we realized that our accelerometer was three dimensional so it is able to pick up force in any direction, and since the helmet is a solid body, it should not matter where the hit is with respect to the accelerometer. The technology for the football helmet consists of an arduino uno, triple axis accelerometer, and RF 434 MHz transmitter.

  • We downloaded the virtualwire library ([1]). We then set up the circuit using the diagrams that are located under the product page under documents and product page.
  • We used the example for the virtualwire library to make sure that our RF transmitter was working with our RF receiver.
  • We attached the accelerometer and RF transmitter to the same arduino to send the magnitue of the force detected by the accelerometer to the coach's pad arduino.
  • We set a threshold to be adjusted that will determine when a force will be transmitted, i.e., only a force above the threshold will be transmitted.
  • We played around with the sampling rate until we felt that the accelerometer was accurately detecting the force applied.
  • When everything was working, we attached a 9V battery to the arduino so that it could be powered without being attached to a computer.
Helmet Circuit

Helmet Shell Design First Design

  • Our first design for the shell for the coach was designed to hold the Arduino Uno and a 20x4 LCD screen, as well as a perfboard. We planned to keep it closed by using a snap close with four poles going through the four corner holes of the LCD screen. The poles are designed to then fit into the larger cylinders attached to the bottom of the enclosure.

Second Design

  • The second design accounted for the space needed for the 9V battery that would be needed to power the Arduino on demo day. Therefore, there was space added to the shell to account for this. The four pole snap system is still used. We realized that the poles that would slide through the LCD screen were the weakest part of the design, so we made them a lot shorter and the cylinders that they snapped into were extended to be much taller. There were also supports added to the cylinder supports to make it more stable.

Third Design

  • After soldering everything to the perfboard, we realized that we needed to change our shell design. Because of the way that the perfboard was attached to the LCD screen, the design was extended a lot below the LCD screen. The four pole snap system was no longer able to be used, so instead we made four holes in each corner of the shell for metal rods to go through and then screws to be fastened on to keep the box closed. This was our final design that we printed and used for our demo.

Coach's Pad
The Coach's pad is meant to be kept on the sidelines so that the coach can see the force inflicted on a player. The will allow the coach to determine when a player should be pulled out of the game instead of it being up to the player to know when it is serious. This information will hopefully decrease the number of concussions that go unreported, The coach's pad consists of a 20x4 LCD screen, arduino uno and 434 MHz RF receiver.

  • We used the liquid crystal library ([2]) for the lcd and the basic set up for the LCD was found at [3].
  • At one point in the project we had problems with the text on the LCD being clear, and the potentiometer was not really helping with the clarity of the screen. We found that using a stronger resistor yielded the results that we wanted. Since the resistors in the lab were not labeled, it was trial and error to find a resistor that worked well.
  • We used the hello world example to get used to the LCD screen and the liquid crystal library.
  • The RF receiver was set up using the diagram from [4].
  • We initially just printed the message received, which was simply the force. We then added in a message to make it more user friendly. The message was added on the receiver end for simplicity since there was only one player in our set up. However, for a whole team, the message would be added onto the transmitter side to distinguish the player number. This would not be difficult since the message can be sent as a string with the whole message including the player number and force magnitude.
  • When everything was working, we attached a 9V battery to the arduino so that it could be powered without being attached to a computer.
Coach's Pad Circuit

Important Links

3D Printed Designs
Find our different versions of our designs here