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Preventing Personal Injuries in Sports with Wearable Neck Collars

Casey Woodruff

footballSerious personal injuries can happen almost anywhere, and many of them are completely unexpected (despite the fact that numerous personal injuries actually are preventable). But where do sports-related concussions and traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) among football players fall? Given that the link between football and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) has been a major topic in sports news over the last several years, should players and their families anticipate a brain injury if they decide to take the field?

To be sure, a recent article from NPR News quoted Jeff Miller, the executive vice president for health and safety with the NFL, who “acknowledged for the first time that football has been linked to a degenerative brain disease.” But does such an admission make the NFL responsible? Or do American football leagues—both amateur and professional—simply need to provide sufficient warnings to players about the risks of head trauma and to provide better safety equipment? According to a recent article in Sports Illustrated, a newly developed wearable neck collar may be able to help reduce brain injuries among athletes in contact sports. But is this device really sufficient to limit liability?

Helmets Simply Are Not Enough to Prevent Brain Injuries

As the Sports Illustrated article explains, new research makes clear that helmets alone cannot sufficiently prevent brain injuries among football players and other athletes in contact sports. Whether you have a child who plays high school football, or if you are a professional player in the NFL, the recently conducted research on TBIs should serve as a wake-up call. Indeed, “while helmets have significantly reduced lacerations and skull fractures,” the article clarifies, “their ability to prevent brain injury is limited.”

Why are helmets alone insufficient? According to a fact sheet from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), concussions are a form of mild TBI that result from “a bump, blow, or jolt to the head or by a hit to the body that causes the head and brain to move rapidly back and forth.” In short, these mild TBIs happen when the brain bounces or twists within the skull—something that a helmet cannot provide protection against. While helmets can help to limit the effects of an impact to the head or body, the Sports Illustrated article underscores that “they cannot prevent the brain from moving within the skull.” As such, athletes need to think about other options for preventing TBIs.

Wearable Neck Collars May Help to Limit Movement of the Brain

Scientists have developed the Q-Collar as a potential addition to the injury prevention technology provided by helmets. As the article explains, these devices work by “lightly clamping down on a person’s jugular veins,” causing “the brain to swell and fit more snugly within the skull.” Do they work?

A scientific study published in Frontiers in Neurology just last month suggested that athletes in contact sports wearing the Q-Collar showed fewer or no changes in their brains over the course of a season, while players without the collars showed signs of structural changes in the brain. An additional study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine confirmed these findings.

The Q-Collar does not yet have approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, but researchers believe it may be a significant device in helping to curb the current rates of TBI among athletes.

Contact an Aurora Personal Injury Lawyer

If you or your child suffered a brain injury while playing sports, you may be able to file a claim for compensation. An experienced personal injury lawyer in Aurora can help. Contact Woodruff Johnson & Evans today to discuss your case.

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