Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center researcher Dr. Greg Myer calls preliminary MRI results "very promising" thanks to a protective collar athletes from Seton and St. Xavier high schools have been wearing to prevent brain damage.
Myer did the MRI tests before and after the season on 75 Seton soccer players. Players were shown letters while in the MRI machine and had to respond when they saw a letter that was repeated two letters previously. He discovered their brains did not have to work any harder at the end of the season when they had suffered repeated hits.
The athletes wore the Q-Collar which puts pressure on the jugular vein, increasing blood volume to create a natural bubble wrap around the brain.
When designing a device to prevent concussions, researcher David Smith thought about a woodpecker who hits a tree at 1200 Gs (acceleration of gravity) and suffers no ill effects. To put that into perspective, roller coasters typically top out around 5 or 6 Gs, and only dare go that high for a few seconds. The woodpecker's protective means is assumed to be its long tongue wrapped around the top of its head lassoing the jugular vein.
The collar is believed to accomplish the same thing. It creates a backfill of about two heartbeats, creating a kink in the hose to fill the space surrounding the brain.
"Our next step is to do longer clinical trials in all sports but certainly football and girls soccer are going to be the areas we're going to focus and hopefully those trials will help provide the evidence for FDA approval," according to Myer.
Here are the teams wearing the collar in Cincinnati:
- Seton Soccer Team
- St. Xavier Hockey Team
- St. Xavier Football Team
The control groups wearing accelerometers, but not the collars are: Madeira Girls Soccer and Moeller Football.