Qatar 2022 – Using Virtual Reality for Player Safety – New Technology

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With the 2022 World Cup in Qatar already in full swing, we have already seen a number of new technologies. Whether it’s Al Rihla’s match ball, which incorporates an inertial motion sensor, semi-automatic offside systems, advanced stadium cooling technologies, or the entertainment platforms written in Braille to allow visually impaired fans to enjoy the matches, Qatar 2022 has made it its mission to fusing the beautiful game with cutting-edge sports technologies to deliver the ultimate spectacle.

Some of the World Cup technology being implemented in Qatar that may have gone under the radar could actually represent a major advance in terms of player safety and how medical teams deal with concussions.

As demonstrated at Qatar 2022, players suspected of concussion will be assessed using new virtual reality technology developed by NeuroFlex as part of the most extensive set of concussion protocols FIFA has ever deployed at a major tournament.

The NeuroFlex virtual reality headset is to be used in any case where it is suspected that a player has suffered a concussion to ultimately allow for a thorough and fair assessment of whether it is safe for the player to return to the field or to be substituted. The headset works by tracking the subject’s eye movements as part of the concussion assessment to ultimately diagnose if a concussion has occurred.

This NeuroFlex technology was successfully tested at last year’s FIFA Arab Cup and showed that correct decisions can be made during matches based on pure science and real-time data. Given that a player diagnosed with a concussion during a game is bound to miss all games for the next ten days, the ability to conduct an accurate concussion assessment can have a huge impact on a team’s fortunes in the tournament.

As is currently the case, the data medical teams rely on for concussion assessments can be seen as highly subjective, with a doctor able to perform some simple eye, balance and cognitive tests – in deciding whether or not a player goes ahead the mercy of the doctor conducting the test. This can be risky for a number of reasons, for example with players who are particularly keen to stay on the pitch despite the potential health risks; who may memorize the answers to the cognitive questions of the concussion assessment, significantly devaluing the concussion assessment and putting themselves at serious risk. With this Neuroflex technology, medical teams will be provided with objective data on the player’s health and the possibility of falsification within the tests will be eliminated, representing a major breakthrough in player safety in relation to potential brain injuries.

In addition to NeuroFlex, FIFA has introduced a number of measures including the Concussion Sub, a replay screen for team doctors to review concussion or injury incidents, and concussion “spotters” to sit in the media stand to analyze medical incidents.

While most public discussions of concussion in recent years have traditionally revolved around collision sports such as rugby codes, Aussie Rules and American football, the beautiful game now also seems to ensure players receive the best possible treatment and prevention of potentially life-changing brain injuries.

It’s technologies like this that will hopefully lead to a reduction in diseases like Alzheimer’s in sports stars as they age, which has garnered a lot of media attention in recent years.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the topic. In relation to your specific circumstances, you should seek advice from a specialist.

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