Rockford Public Schools is piloting progressive technology in football helmets this fall to improve coaching and increase student safety on the field. RPS 205 will have 45 helmets – at least 10 varsity-level helmets at each high school – equipped with the Riddell InSite Impact Response System. This head impact monitoring technology is designed to notify coaches or trainers via handheld devices after a player encounters a significant hit or accumulates a series of hits that exceed a research-based threshold.
This technology does not diagnose a concussion, and it’s not a medical device. It gives coaches and trainers an extra set of eyes to immediately pull a player from a game or practice and evaluate a player for concussion symptoms. RPS 205 will also continue to follow state mandated concussion protocol and guidelines.
Coaches will also use this data to help minimize head impact exposure and work with players on safety tips and techniques to avoid injury and play a safer game. “Any time it makes sense to be cutting edge and provide the best opportunities for our students and coaches, we’re going to do that,” said Mat Parker, Director of Athletic Activities & Program Development. “With this technology, we can identify how to teach and coach our players better, and we can assess potential injuries earlier. It enhances our program.”
How it works: Helmet liners have a five-zone sensor pad between the hard helmet exterior and the pads inside. These sensors measure impact severity and trigger alerts when a single impact or series of hits exceeds a threshold. That data can also be uploaded to a computer; coaching staff can utilize the player management software dashboard to review alert history and look for trends.
The breakdown, by school: RPS 205 replaces 10 percent of its helmet inventory each year. Older helmets are phased out, and new helmets with the InSite technology – Riddell Speed or Riddell Speed Flex helmets – have been introduced to varsity players in both offensive and defensive positions. InSite technology was installed in all 45 replacement plan helmets: 10 at Jefferson, 11 at Guilford, and 12 each at East and Auburn. RPS 205 is the first district in Illinois to roll out this technology in all its high schools. This pilot program is through a partnership with Riddell and comes at no cost to the taxpayer.
About Riddell: Riddell is a premier designer and developer in protective sports equipment. It is also the leading manufacturer of football helmets, shoulder pads and reconditioning services. Nationwide, more than 600 programs – and about 17,000 players – will use Riddell’s InSite technology this fall. College customers include the University of Wisconsin (Whitewater, Platteville, Lacrosse and Oshkosh), St. Norbert, Elmhurst College and Benedictine University. Several Chicago-area teams are using the technology, although Rockford is the first locally.