Validation and Comparison of Instrumented Mouthguards for Measuring Head Kinematics and Assessing Brain Deformation in Football Impacts

Ann Biomed Eng. 2020 Nov;48(11):2580-2598. doi: 10.1007/s10439-020-02629-3. Epub 2020 Sep 28.


Because of the rigid coupling between the upper dentition and the skull, instrumented mouthguards have been shown to be a viable way of measuring head impact kinematics for assisting in understanding the underlying biomechanics of concussions. This has led various companies and institutions to further develop instrumented mouthguards. However, their use as a research tool for understanding concussive impacts makes quantification of their accuracy critical, especially given the conflicting results from various recent studies. Here we present a study that uses a pneumatic impactor to deliver impacts characteristic to football to a Hybrid III headform, in order to validate and compare five of the most commonly used instrumented mouthguards. We found that all tested mouthguards gave accurate measurements for the peak angular acceleration, the peak angular velocity, brain injury criteria values (mean average errors < 13, 8, 13%, respectively), and the mouthguards with long enough sampling time windows are suitable for a convolutional neural network-based brain model to calculate the brain strain (mean average errors < 9%). Finally, we found that the accuracy of the measurement varies with the impact locations yet is not sensitive to the impact velocity for the most part.

Keywords: Anthropomorphic test dummy (ATD); Concussion; Electronic mouthguard; Smart mouthguard; mTBI.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Validation Study

MeSH terms

  • Acceleration
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Brain Concussion* / pathology
  • Brain Concussion* / physiopathology
  • Brain Concussion* / prevention & control
  • Football / injuries*
  • Head / pathology
  • Head / physiopathology
  • Head Protective Devices*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mouth Protectors*