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Thin Neck Collars May Prevent Sports Head Injuries

Illinois sports injuries continue to affect athletes across our area. Football, hockey, boxing, and soccer injuries in particular are often serious and frequently the injuries affect the head, neck, and brain of athletes. Much more awareness has been raised as of late regarding these injuries, particularly concussions. As the long-term consequences of brain injuries are uncovered and the dangers of not treating them becomes clear, it is becoming more and more necessary to take steps to keep athletes safe.

When young athletes are involved, it is particularly important for coaches, officials, trainers, school administrator, and other involved parties to keep players safe. A central aspect of that safety effort is ensuring that head injuries are properly diagnosed and players are taken out of the game when they arise. Rest is one of the key components of brain injury recovery, and players are placed in serious risk of long-term harm when they are exposed to more head trauma after already experiencing an injury. Yet, beyond ensuring proper rest, many scientists are also working on designing ways to prevent these injuries for developing in the first place. One of the newest ways that this prevention might be accomplished is through use of neck bands and collars.

The Star News reported on the story noting that the simple device may ultimately prove to become an indispensible piece of safety equipment for many athletes. The researchers who developed the product explain that a collar no tighter than a set of headphones can be worn around athletes necks during a game, essentially creating a skull “airbag” which may cushion the brain from blows that otherwise would cause a concussion. The news is a huge departure from most sports safety equipment trends.

In the past the approach to preventing injury mostly led safety manufacturers to develop larger, more robust devices with increased padding. However, as scientist note, the changes to things like helmets have largely been unhelpful at preventing brain injuries like concussions. While helmets prevent the skull itself from being cracked or otherwise being injured in a collision, it does nothing to prevent the brain from moving about within the liquid cerebral fluids and blood in which it rests. It is this brain movement that injures most athletes.

Yet this new device would be different in that it actually provides cushion within the player’s head. This is done via slight constriction of the neck. The constriction narrows the internal “jugular” veins that drain blood from the skull. This “fills up” the liquid pool in which the brain rests, preventing brain movement and therefore preventing concussions. The constriction needed to provide the benefit is not much-merely like wearing a tight collared shirt.

Our Chicago brain injury lawyers were encouraged to read about this latest development in sports safety. Anything that may prevent sports brain injuries is a good thing that should be explored and used by those in a position to keep athletes safe. While some games will always have inherent risk factors, many of these accidents can and should be prevented.

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