Head impact exposure in popular contact sports is not well understood, especially in the youth population, despite recent advances in impact-sensing technology which has allowed widespread collection of real-time head impact data. Previous studies indicate that a custom-instrumented mouthpiece is a superior method for collecting accurate head acceleration data. The objective of this study was to evaluate the efficacy of mounting a sensor device inside an acrylic retainer form factor to measure six-degrees-of-freedom (6DOF) head kinematic response. This study compares 6DOF mouthpiece kinematics at the head center of gravity (CG) to kinematics measured by an anthropomorphic test device (ATD). This study found that when instrumentation is mounted in the rigid retainer form factor, there is good coupling with the upper dentition and highly accurate kinematic results compared to the ATD. Peak head kinematics were correlated with r2 > 0.98 for both rotational velocity and linear acceleration and r2 = 0.93 for rotational acceleration. These results indicate that a rigid retainer-based form factor is an accurate and promising method of collecting head impact data. This device can be used to study head impacts in helmeted contact sports such as football, hockey, and lacrosse as well as nonhelmeted sports such as soccer and basketball. Understanding the magnitude and frequency of impacts sustained in various sports using an accurate head impact sensor, such as the one presented in this study, will improve our understanding of head impact exposure and sports-related concussion.

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