the X Patch, a skin patch worn behind the ear that is the size of a quarter and weighs two grams. Like the X Guard, this tiny patch is able to actually sense the amount of impact, notifying coaches, trainers and team doctors in real time when they should be concerned about a player.
The lacrosse, soccer and football teams at Stanford University, along with the football teams at the University of Washington and University of Michigan, all use the patch in full-contact practices and games. And the X Patch will be available to additional teams via X2 Biosystems’ website. Note: It is not available for retail.
In eventing, something like this could provide a solution to the one-fall conundrum. Presently, we can never be 100% certain that a rider is okay after a fall. A device like the X Patch might be one way to have a better index of the impact involved in a fall, and also in studying how frequently concussions occur in eventing falls.
As a rider, if my head experiences strong enough forces on impact to cause a concussion, I'd like to know it.
As an EMT, I know that the patient is not considered the best assessor of their own mental status.
As a rider and an EMT, I would like someone else to know that I may have suffered a concussion so that they can keep an eye on me and get me to treatment if necessary.
Also as a rider and an EMT, I would place greater value in metrics than in the discretionary opinion of the Ground Jury, who may or may not have any medical training and who may or may not have witnessed the accident and who may or may not be depending on the opinion of a third party such as a jump judge.
As an EMT, I would prefer that a sport organization have an evidence-based return-to-play policy that does not ask me to assess a patient in such a way that violates the terms of my license.
There are times when an individual needs a big brother. A concussion or TBI -- or even the possibility of it -- at an eventing venue is one of those times. Even if you think you have the right to be running around brain-injured, your horse deserves to be handled by someone with all of their faculties intact, and your fellow drivers on the road home shouldn't have to share the road with a hazard like yourself.
Of course, we need to know a lot more about it before we would be able to put it to use out in the real world ... How accurate is it? What is the frequency of false positives and/or false negatives? How consistently do the patch's readings correlate with significant injuries? How are the readings accessed, and are they available immediately? Would it be economically feasible for all riders to wear them, at least during competitions?
If it truly works as well as intended, it could definitely be a valuable tool for preventing further injuries after a fall.