Can we prevent Parkinson's disease in football players?

Another football player succumbed to Parkinson's disease last week. This time it was Jim Hudson, one of the heroes of the Jets' unlikely victory in Superbowl III.

His brain and spine were donated to Boston University to those researching the link between trauma and neurological disease.

“He was a hard-hitting, tough football player,” his wife said. “What he wanted to do was help researchers come up with alternatives to protect players better, especially kids coming up.”

According to this recent article, products are starting to come out that measure the amount and severity of hits to the head. Reebock is selling a washable beanie called ChecklightTM that measures impacts to the head and indicates the severity with a simple yellow or red light.

The X-Patch sends impact reports over wireless to the sidelines.

As a parent and a coach, watching my kids taking hits in soccer games, this is information I want. I attended an excellent concussion training course put out by the CDC and learned that the most important thing to do is to take kids out of the game when they sustain any head trauma. But how do I judge the severity of heading a ball, crunching into another player, banging into a goalpost or just falling down without one of these units?

The NY Times article asks a tough question: Will opposing players try to knock other players out of the game by setting off their sensors? That kind of headhunting would need to suffer serious consequences.

Will one of the answers coming out of this research be that helmets in NFL football actually increase the chances of head injuries because they encourage the use of a helmeted head as a weapon, rather than something to be protected during the game?