Student Designs Device That Detects Sport Concussions in 10 Seconds

A spokesperson from Loughborough University said, ‘We have an international reputation for research that matters,’ as the school continues to receive international recognition for its exceptional research and teaching, especially in sports-related studies.

The university has received five stars in the QS Stars university rating scheme and tops the list in the 2023 QS World University Rankings for sports-related subjects for the seventh consecutive year.

CONTACT: A Device Born from a Student’s Passion for Rugby

Loughborough’s reputation is not just due to its academics; it’s also a hub of innovation. One example is CONTACT, a device developed by Joel Poulter, a recent Product Design graduate. This handheld device aims to detect sports-related concussions in under 10 seconds.

Joel’s inspiration came from his 15 years of experience as a rugby player. “Detecting concussions early is incredibly important. I’ve had multiple firsthand experiences with concussion and I’ve seen friends suffer the consequences,” said Joel.

How Does CONTACT Work?

The device is simple and quick. It shines a light into a player’s eyes and measures factors such as pupil size and speed of constriction. These readings are compared to the player’s baseline measurements, allowing for rapid assessment of potential concussions.

This is especially helpful in amateur games, where medical support is often lacking. “I wanted to develop a test that gives a rapid assessment and can be used at all sporting levels,” Joel added.


Bridging Innovation with Practical Needs

CONTACT has gone beyond just being a concept; it’s a functioning prototype. Using an infrared camera, the device captures pupil responses in both eyes. “I’ve trialled it with nine participants and the results have been very encouraging,” said Joel. He plans to add an accompanying app that offers medical guidance based on the test results. His ultimate goal?

“I want CONTACT to become a tool used by every club, school, and university to tackle concussion in all contact sports,” said Joel.

Other Innovations

CONTACT is not the only invention to come from Loughborough’s creative minds. The university’s London campus is home to thought leaders and pioneering researchers. They focus on postgraduate and executive-level education and offer a wide array of research and enterprise opportunities.

Concussion Detection Goes Beyond Rugby

CONTACT is not limited to rugby. The device’s scope extends to all contact sports, making it a versatile tool. Its ability to provide non-subjective results in less than ten seconds makes it ideal for use in various sports scenarios. Instructions displayed on an LCD make it easy for even untrained individuals to assess a potential concussion.

Medical Benefits Are Essential

The device serves a life-saving purpose beyond safeguarding athletes during play. It can avert ‘second-impact syndrome,’ a lethal condition that happens when a player rejoins the game too quickly following a concussion. “Accurate detection of concussions allows for immediate focus on recovery, sidestepping severe health complications and premature ends to athletic careers,” Joel clarified.

Loughborough University: A Hub of Innovation and Excellence

Loughborough University continues to earn its high rankings and awards, from being named University of the Year for Sport to achieving over 90% ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally-excellent’ ratings in the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021. Students like Joel help ensure that Loughborough University remains a leader in academic and real-world problem-solving.