Head Health Network, a local company that installs sensors in helmets to detect and monitor student-athletes for concussions, won the top prize at Thursday evening’s PitchBR competition, the organization’s first entrepreneurial event of the year.
“The recognition is great because we’ve been working on this for a long time,” HHN President Curtis Cruz said. “We’re on a great mission and we care about what we’re doing and it helps a lot of kids, a lot of families, a lot of schools. It was unexpected, but exciting.”
HHN—which began as a research project between Marucci Sports, Marucci’s Medical Advisory Board and advanced sensor technology PatientTech—bested two other companies, ImproveMyGun.com and Kinesics, to claim the $1,000 prize.
The startup is already making an impact on the sports world, counting the LSU, Penn State and Texas A&M football teams, as well as a host of youth and high school squads, among its many partners. The technology comes at time when sports-related concussions and Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, or CTE, among NFL players are consistently making cable and newspaper headlines.
HHN provides baseline cognitive testing and post-injury assessments to athletes. The company uses a sensor—placed between the inside padding and outside shell of a helmet—that wirelessly transmits data to sideline personnel who monitor and track how on-the-field impacts affect players in real time via an app.
The sensor tracks every impact an athlete sustains and notifies the sideline personnel if a significant risk threshold is exceeded. The information can be used as a tool to determine whether to remove or return an athlete to the field of play.
The idea is to find better ways to diagnose and treat concussions and to limit liability issues for sports organizations and schools. “We started in the sensor application side, and we’ve since evolved into the software application side,” Cruz said.
A second app helps principals, coaches and others to access and maintain compliance with concussion-related laws and information. Schools and responsible personnel can track which student-athletes are eligible to play and manage a player’s injury status.
HHN’s medical advisory board comprises LSU Director of Athletic Training Jack Marucci, LSU athletics neurosurgeon Dr. Eric Oberlander, and several concussion experts.
The company also has the support of several former NFL players, including former player and ESPN NFL analyst Merril Hoge, Eric Winston of the Cincinnati Bengals and the NFL Players Association, and former player Rob Konrad.
“It’s not just us thinking that we have a good idea. We’ve got a lot of people with a lot of experience, whether it be in the NFL or college, the medical side or the insurance side,” Cruz said. “People from all different walks of life contribute a lot of ideas into what we do.”
The next PitchBR event will take place on June 22.