Thermometer-in-a-Pill for Football Players

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Thermometer-in-a-Pill for Football Players

The latest issue of Wired arrived in my mailbox on Saturday. Typically I flip through the entire magazine to locate the articles I want to read first. One item that stopped me in my tracks for a few minutes was a piece (“Less Pain, More Gain,” October 2006) about different ways National Football League teams use technology to help players perform at their best.

Among the items covered in the article are jaw-saving helmets, anti-concussion mouthguards, “air conditioner” shoulder pads, and a thermometer-in-a-pill manufactured by HQ, Inc. (under its CorTemp brand). This final item, according to Wired, has been adopted by some NFL teams because often football players are not aware when they start to overheat.

A blog post on BoingBoing by David Pescovitz from January of this year explains that the thermometer, which is about the size of a multivitamin, is swallowed by players a couple of hours before game-time—giving it time to reach the small intestine. From there, it provides “continuous readings of a player's body temperature, which can be picked up by a sensor placed against the small of the player's back.”

The Wired article notes that this data can be transmitted to trainers on the sidelines, allowing them to monitor the well-being of players.

Pescovitz said in his post that, thanks to one of these thermometers, Philadelphia Eagles player Tra Thomas was saved from the detrimental effects of heatstroke during summer training camp. Although he hadn’t shown any signs of heat stress, the thermometer showed that Thomas’ core body temperature was 40.9 degrees Celsius (about 105 degrees Fahrenheit).

Heatstroke can be a very dangerous for football players, and other athletes, Pescovitz noted—in 2003, Korey Stringer of the Minnesota Vikings died from the effects of overheating.

Want to learn more about the CorTemp thermometer-in-a-pill? Check out this 2005 article from Associated Press.