According to the Zuckerman study , among NCAA sports over 10,500 sport related concussions (SRC) occur every year. With wrestling and football topping the list as the sports with the most incidents, the overall increase in emphasis of the dangers of concussions has become a major public spotlight over the past few years. Laws in many states have even been crafted to increase the process of concussion reporting and mandating a specific rehab protocol .
Now a researcher from Cincinnati Childrens’ Hospital has studied a new technique in concussion prevention. Dr. Gregory Myer, director of Research and the Human Sports Medicine Lab at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, has researched the concussion collar, a device designed by Dr. David Smith in an effort to reduce incidences of traumatic brain injuries in contact sports. Essentially, the collar places pressure on the jugular veins, which results in an increase the blood volume and pressure inside the cranium. This forms “bubble wrap” that keeps the brain from “sloshing” around with impacts. Dr. Smith’s idea comes from studying woodpeckers and their ability to protect their brains despite obvious frequent head trauma.
Preliminary data results are very promising and there appear to be no ill-effects of the increased cranial pressure. Dr. Myers reports that the pressure increase is akin to the change in a person going from supine to standing, which could have a significant impact on concussion statistics.
Further research is expected to be published in the next 4-6 months, when enough significant data can be accumulated on the effectiveness of this new device.
Personally, I believe this could revolutionize how we prevent concussions in sports. I can see this being mandatory equipment within the next 5 years. All thanks to the humble woodpecker and how it protects its brain from concussions!
Zuckerman SL, Kerr Zy, Yengo-Kahn A, Wasserman E, Covassin T, Solomon GS. Epidemiology of Sports-related concussion in NCAA athletes from 2009-2010 to 2013-2014: Incidence, recurrence, and mechanisms. Am J Sports Med. 2015 Nov: 43(11):2654-62.
Centers for Disease Control: Head’s up concussion program. http://www.cdc.gov/headsup/providers/return_to_activities.html
About the Author:
Dr. Chad Hensel is a licensed clinical physical therapist with over 13 years of experience in sports medicine, orthopedics, subacute, neurological and work hardening. Currently, he is one of four lead Physical Therapists at Marion Area Health Center in Marion, Ohio, and also works for SunDance Rehabilitation Corporation in Marion performing PRN evaluations and clinical management in the subacute unit.
His courses in the AthleticTraining.com catalog include Achieving Optimum Therapeutic Exercise Outcomes, Movement Analysis: Applied Anatomy and Kinesiology for the Rehab Professional, and Performance Enhancers Throughout the Lifetime: Friend or Foe?.