Nov 24, 2015Collar Aims To Prevent Minor Concussions
Seeking to serve as a barrier against mild concussions, a new type of lightweight, pressurized neck collar works by exerting slight continual pressure on the large neck veins transporting blood between the heart and the brain. According to developers of the device, that pressure triggers a slight drop in the amount of blood that flows out of the head, leaving more fluid in the brain to cushion it when impact occurs.
As reported by U.S. News and World Report, Gregory Myer, Director of Research at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital’s Division of Sports Medicine, who is studying the collar, described the result as “a natural bubble-wrap for our brain.” While speaking at a news briefing on the new technology, Myer added, “It’s the same principle behind seatbelts and airbags,” both of which serve to significantly lower the g-force associated with sudden impacts.
The theory behind the collar is that by retaining more fluid in the skull, it will mitigate the effect of lower-level “brain slosh,” which is when a traumatic blow to the head causes the brain to hit the inner skull. Researchers explained that this phenomenon can be found in nature with animals—such as fighting rams, woodpeckers, and diving birds, which have developed similar ways of coping with blunt head collisions. There are also studies in which backing up a small amount of blood into an animal’s head resulted in a dramatic drop in concussion risk, researchers explained.
According to U.S. News and World Report, in one study of Cincinnati-area high school athletes, researchers found that those wearing the collar were largely protected against the kind of brain injury that can translate into devastating and long-lasting health complications, including unrelenting headaches; impaired sleep; loss of appetite and energy; depressed moods; and incapacitating difficulties with thinking and memory.
Though the collar has yet to gain approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Kevin Davis, Chief Executive Officer of Performance Sports Group, the company developing the device, said the collar could be available “in the next year or two.” Meanwhile, the device is still considered experimental and testing will continue.