You’ve seen football medical privacy tents on TV; University of Alabama now has the patent

Medical privacy tent developed at Alabama
Medical privacy tent developed at Alabama University of Alabama

You have probably noticed those medical privacy tents on the sidelines during college and professional football games.

The University of Alabama was recently awarded a patent for a tent developed by engineering students and Crimson Tide Athletics, firmly protecting the tent’s unique capability to easily expand or collapse on the sideline of a football field.

In a story on the University of Alabama website, www.ua.edu, the director of sports medicine at the university Jeff Allen said, “The patent clearly adds another layer of protection to what we feel like is a unique idea.”

Allen was a member of the team which developed the tent.

Now called the SidelinER, it can set up within seconds without blocking the view of fans watching the game. Most of the game, the tent is collapsed onto the ground, but if an injured player needs an evaluation by the medical staff, it quickly expands over the examination table.

Debuting on the sidelines of Bryant-Denny Stadium in 2015, the SidelinER was used on every sideline in the NFL and the bulk of major college football teams during the past season.

“It’s taken off because physicians and athletic trainers recognize the definite need for a product like this on their sideline,” said Allen in the report. “It’s very easy to operate and easy to use, so people see it can be beneficial.”

According to the report, in 2016, UA’s Office for Technology Transfer licensed the technology to Kinematic Sports, a company formed by Allen and two of the engineering students, Jared Cassity and Patrick Powell, who worked on the senior design project,

The United States patent was granted Jan. 2, covering the collapsible and portable design. Allen, Cassity and Powell are the inventors, along with Jared Porteous and Christian Parris, the other two engineering students on the project. They all graduated in 2015.

In the report, Allen said his original intention was for the students to create a tent his staff could use for Crimson Tide football games. The finished product turned out to work so well that first season it garnered the attention of the media and the sport medicine and training community. Being on the sideline of a visible football team and flagship university helped, he said.

UA was recently granted a patent for the SidelinER, which allows private medical exams on the sideline of athletic contests.

“There’s no question the way the SidelinER has taken off would not have happened without the power of the script ‘A,’” said Allen, referencing UA’s crimson logo. “That ‘A’ is powerful. The support of this University has been incredibly beneficial.”

After three seasons with the SidelinER, Allen said it has become a critical part of sideline medical care.

“I can’t believe we did this without the SidelinER,” he said. “I clearly knew there would be a benefit to privacy, but I didn’t realize how much it would improve our medical exam on the sideline. The medical staff and the athlete are much calmer in a private environment, and we get a better medical exam than we used to get.”

Larry Gierer: 706-571-8581, @lagierer