Personal Injury

Simple neck device could spare athletes from concussion

New research conducted by a group of physicians has found that the solution to preventing and mitigating brain injuries in athletes could be as amazingly simple as a collar or band worn around the neck.

University of Toronto anesthesiologist Dr. Joseph Fisher, who serves as a senior scientist in human physiology at the Toronto General Research Institute, told the Toronto Star that a simple collar or band fitted around the neck no tighter than a tight collared shirt or set of headphones worn around the neck during games could sufficiently insulate the brain against concussions. The discovery could prove to be somewhat of a salvation to athletes and even to the sports they play, especially on the football field or in the hockey rink, where players are constantly exposed to the risk of concussion.

Concussions occur when the head is jolted, causing the brain to bang against the interior of the skull. “With the brain sloshing around the skull, it’s absorbing all sorts of the concussive energies,” Dr. Fisher told the Toronto Star. “And this absorption of energy causes disruption of all the neurons and the connections and so on.”

Repeated concussions over time can have something of a cumulative effect on athletes, causing cognitive decline and emotional problems as they age. Football helmets and other protective head gear protect the skull against fractures but do little to prevent concussions or lessen their impact.

A collar or band that applies a slight amount of pressure in the right areas will gently constrict the internal jugular veins that drain blood from the skull. This helps keep the skull full of the vital fluids couching the brain and cushion the brain from knocking around.

“… Picture a clear plastic bottle containing water and an object suspended in the fluid,” the Toronto Star report explains. “If the bottle is not quite full, the suspended object will move around chaotically [when] the container is dropped to the ground. If the bottle is topped up with water, however, the suspended object remains still upon impact.”

“All of a sudden now we’ve gone from bigger helmets and things like that to something that . . . would be a simple, inexpensive, universally applied little device,” Dr. Fisher told the Toronto Star. In hockey, he explained that the fix could be as simple as fitting neck guards already worn by players with a couple of “strategically placed cotton balls that compress the relevant jugulars.”

“And you’re done, that’s it. This isn’t like a million dollar project, it’s something that will cost you ten bucks if it works,” Dr. Fisher told the Toronto Star.


The Toronto Star