With rising concern of football-related brain injuries, two area Minnesota teams test new helmet technology

For the first time in this region, two area high school football teams are using new technology to combat those safety concerns.

Stephen-Argyle and Clearbrook-Gonvick—Minnesota Section 8 9-man programs—are entering their first season using Riddell InSite helmets, which feature a five-zone sensor in the liner of the helmet that measures a hit’s impact severity and communicates statistics to a handheld monitor.

If a hit’s impact surpasses a preset threshold, an alert can be sent to the monitor for the coaching staff or athletic trainer to initiate sideline protocol of a possible head injury.

The monitor can also later be plugged into a computer to generate detailed reports.

Stephen-Argyle is starting with seven of the helmets and Clearbrook-Gonvick has one.

Riddell said about 100 colleges and 600 high school programs nationwide have used the InSite technology. In Minnesota, 11 high school programs and four colleges are using InSite, including Moorhead, Breckenridge, Perham and Hawley.

Mayville State is the only school in North Dakota that has any InSite helmets, according to Riddell.

Helmets can be a tough cost for schools to absorb, which is one reason teams have a limited number of the helmets with InSite technology. Stephen-Argyle and Clearbrook-Gonvick hope to phase them in over time.

The InSite monitor can be retrofitted into an existing helmet for about $100, according to a Riddell spokesman, but “pricing can depend on a lot of different factors.”

Riddell is the primary helmet of most prep and college programs. The company says more than 90 percent of college football players wear a Riddell helmet.

Stephen-Argyle coach Ethan Marquis said practice habits aimed at reducing contact have helped player safety and the new helmet technology is another positive step.

“I don’t think anything is a cure-all, but it’s a way to gather more data,” Marquis said. “Of course, there’s a heightened awareness about head injuries, there’s no secret about that.

“Our (school) board is…

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