For several years now, there has been ongoing concern about the consequences of playing contact sports; in particular, the potential for injury to the brain. About 20% of teenagers in general report suffering a concussion at least once, and this percentage increases in those who play contact sports.1 A concussion occurs when the brain and the membranes enclosing it hit the skull, which can result from a hard blow to the head or a severe fall.2 Sports such as ice hockey and American football, where collision and falls are common, report especially high rates of concussion. These high rates of concussion are problematic, and can lead to memory deficit, irritability, and a long-term depression in neurological function.3
However, there may be hope for those that love playing contact sports but want to keep their brain healthy. Bauer, a well-known hockey equipment company, has licensed a collar that promises to combat brain injury. Known as the “Q-Collar,” it is designed to be worn around the neck while playing contact sports. How does it work? It compresses the jugular vein, which then sends more blood into the skull. This increased blood volume causes the brain to fit tighter within the skull, so that any hard blow would cause less of a collision impact between the brain and the skull.5 The Q-Collar can also be used in conjunction with a helmet, thus doubling the amount of protection. A study done by Gregory Myer, Director of Research for the Division of Sports Medicine at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, showed that hockey players who wore the Q-Collar suffered no significant structural changes in the brain compared with a control group of players who did not wear the collar.5
Though the Q-Collar has not yet been approved by the Food and Drug Administration, it shows much promise in protecting young brains during contact sports. The Q-Collar may also have potential benefits in other areas where brain injury is common, including motorcycle riding and fighting in the military.4 Although there needs to be more research conducted on the long-term benefits or difficulties of wearing the Q-Collar, results of current research show a promising improvement in brain protection over the current standard of wearing a helmet.1
1. Jochem, Greta. “1 In 5 Teens Reports A Concussion Diagnosis.” NPR, NPR, 26 Sept. 2017.
2. Jones, C. (2011). How concussions work. How Stuff Works.
3. Leddy, J., Sandhu, H., Sodhi, V., Baker, J., & Willer, B. (2012). Rehabilitation of concussion and post-concussion syndrome. Sports Health, 4(2), 147-154.
4. Lemire, Joe. “Brain-Protecting Q-Collar Technology Spreads Through Sports World.” SportTechie, SportTechie, 26 Sept. 2017.
5. Taylor, Tom. “New Collar Shows Promise for Concussion Prevention.” Sports Illustrated, Sports Illustrated, 15 June 2016.