On Hobbs and Bear fields — or Colton, or Potlatch, or at any small-town school district football field on the Palouse — it’s not uncommon to hear a helmet or two clash.

No matter how much you coach, the always-keep-your-head-up, straight-back, square-up-with-the-body-and-tackle technique will not work on every down. It helps avoid contact with the head, maybe more so if taught at a young age, but it won’t happen on every split-second tackle. Defenders miss: people juke, change direction and collisions happen.

Besides upgrading helmets and pads, and teaching safe and proper tackling fundamentals, there’s not much a coach can do to rid headshots entirely. There didn’t seem to be much of a measuring stick, either, until of late.

The Pullman High School football team will soon play with new technology that will allow players to avoid and diminish serious head injuries.

With the CUE Sports Sensor — a small device from the Kirkland, Wash., company Athlete Intelligence — football coaches and athletic trainers can track the location, quantity and severity of impacts to the head.

While the sensor can’t diagnose a concussion, for the first time, thanks to this sensor, PHS officials can pinpoint how many hits your child took to the head, in one game or a season, or the team as a whole throughout a game or season. And with the ability to track hits, coaches can look to data and work to limit those blows further.

It was all made possible by a $10,000 grant from the Pullman Chamber of Commerce to Pullman Regional Hospital’s Orthopedic Center of Excellence, which partners with PHS.

It’s $10,000 well spent. In an age in which concussions and injuries are plaguing football players of all levels, especially at a young age when an adolescent’s brain is developing and more vulnerable than an adult’s, it shows the chamber, PRH and PHS are thinking forward to protect the futures of our community’s youth.

The short-term dizziness, headache, temporary loss of consciousness and blurred vision that comes with a headshot will go away, if not after the game, likely as the Friday night wanes.

Memory loss, changes in personality, depression, psychological problems, trouble concentrating and sleeping, irritability, and sensitivity to light and noise from concussions can last forever.

By tracking impacts to the head, this grant will help ensure Greyhounds who want to play under the lights don’t have to walk that dark path.

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