Loudoun Valley football parents push for use of helmet sensors

WASHINGTON – Parents at a local high school are battling with Loudoun County school officials over a concussion safety device called Brain Sentry.

Some parents of football players at Loudoun Valley High School in Purcellville want their children to wear helmets with the sensors but school administrators are saying no.

The sensors blink when there’s a hard hit and they count smaller hits, says Brain Sentry (http://brainsentry.com/ ) company spokesman Jim Boyle. The purpose of the sensor is to identify players who should be evaluated for a concussion.

The company is based in Bethesda. Boyle says the sensors stick on the back of the helmet and weigh less than 1 ounce.

Loudoun County Public Schools public information officer Wayde Byard says the school district is concerned about student safety including for its student athletes but that officials are getting a bad rap over the decision not to use the sensors.

He says there are multiple concerns about the sensors.

“It is cutting edge device. But it is not yet proven,” Byard says. “What this would be, would be an alpha-test for a product using our students to do the testing.”

He says the schools don’t have the manpower to collect all the data that would be required, noting each high school has only one trainer. The other concern is that the sensor could void the safety warranty on the helmets.

“This device has not been approved by the Virginia high school league, the helmet manufactures or any national sanctioning body. In fact, the helmet manufactures say it will void their warranty.”

But Boyle says that’s a false argument. “Brain Sentry has put in writing that it would cover the warranty of the helmet,” he says.

On Thursday, Loudoun Valley football players were not allowed to practice with the sensors on their helmets.

“Hopefully further discussion with the county will allow these sensors to be tested and utilized further,” Boyle says.

He says the sensors are mandated by the arena football league and that they are in use in youth and highs school programs in other parts of the country.

“The best sensor we have is a certified athletic trainer on the side line. They know the players they work with they every day,” Byard says.

Loudoun Valley letter to football parents

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