X2 Biosystems (http://x2bio.com/), a Seattle-based tech startup, was founded with a simple mission: to create awareness and solve the challenge of sports concussions. Motivated by his son’s personal experience with a life-altering sports concussion, Rich Able, along with fellow co-founder Christoph Mack, has championed the development of technologies in biometric impact measurement, sideline diagnostic tools, and systems designed to gather data surrounding traumatic brain injury (TBI). X2 Biosystems leverages electronic head-impact sensory patches (“xPatches”) and a novel cloud-connected mobile application (X2 Integrated Concussion Examination or “X2 ICE”) to provide an integrated platform that compares on-field assessment of concussions to previous baseline data in a real time.
X2 Biosystems’ impact monitoring system is the first of its kind and addresses a huge gap in the assessment of sports brain injury (SBI), an issue most recently in the press with the National Football League’s agreement to pay hundreds of millions of dollars to compensate former players who suffered brain injuries while playing. X2 Biosystems’ innovative platform created a market not only to address on-field safety issues, but also to fulfill the need for more and better information.
With no currently established standard as to what type of impact can actually cause a concussion in a player, Able and Mack believe the most important task at this step is to gather clinical data. The co-founders are clear on X2 Biosystems’ positioning that to address this public health issue, creating an extensive dataset is the best way for clinicians to truly understand and begin to solve the concussion problem. Mack says, “what we want to do is build the definitive database of head impact exposure across this hugely diverse population and then be able to capture the clinical outcomes associated with that exposure to head impact and enable the research community to make real strides in understanding what kind of conditions lead to what kind of injury profiles.” Mack and Able are both in agreement that “the gizmos (xPatches) are what make us really unique, but the real mission of our company is the database.”
X2 Biosystems early partnerships with the likes of research-minded Stanford University and the University of Michigan reinforced the company’s mission not only to collect data, but to support football. This season (2013), X2 Biosystems is supplying over 3,000 sensor systems to prominent institutions in addition to the aforementioned, including Washington, Wisconsin, and Nebraska football programs. However, at this point, X2 Biosystems primary channel is direct sales to the NFL. Given the level of scrutiny aimed at the league and the pressures to improve player health and safety, the NFL mandated the use of the X2 Biosystems’ impact sensory platform in all practices and games for all 32 NFL teams.
In addition to other professional sports leagues, which have also begun to utilize X2 Biosystems’ sensing technology, Mack and Able believe that other channels beyond sports including industrial and military applications will provide critical data going forward. The key is that as their dataset grows larger, so do the potential applications. Mack says that, “it’s our belief that only by building a database of head impact exposure, and the subsequent clinical outcomes, diagnoses, therapies, recoveries, and return, when we have that full comprehensive picture, that’s when human kind really understands and solves this concussion problem.”