Researchers at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital tested Q30 Q-Collar. The experimental collar will lessen the flow of blood out of the brain to prevent long-term effects in athletes who suffer sustained hits on their head.

Helmets can reduce or avoid, in some cases, the consequences of sports blows, though, they cannot prevent the brain from moving within the skull. That movement of the brain within the skull has been linked to severe brain injuries, and it has been one of the reasons that encouraged Q30 Innovations to design the Q-collar.

According to the tests conducted in rough sports players, the Q-Collar reduces the effects of collisions suffered during practices or games. Dr. Greg Myer, director of sports medicine research at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital was the head author of both studies.

The Q-Collar, developed by Q30 Innovations, seeks to reduce incidents of brain injury caused by a concussive blow to the head of athletes, soldiers and industrial workers. Image courtesy of PRnewswire

Q30’s Q-Collar

Q30 Innovations (a company from Connecticut that develops technologies to protect athletes against traumatic brain injury) has created a collar to put pressure subtly on the jugular vein to slow blood outflow in the cranium. The device increases blood volume to let the brain fit more tightly in the skull. This technology promises the prevention of sloshing, mild traumatic brain injury or concussions.

Research from David Smith, visiting scientist at Cincinnati Children’s and co-inventor of the collar, encouraged Q30 Innovations to create the device. In his research, Smith concluded that woodpeckers and head-ramming sheep were natural biological mechanisms to increase blood volume in the brain and prevent brain injuries or concussions.

Researchers at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital conducted two tests to examine the efficacy of the Q-collar while reducing the effects of impacts on the brain of hockey and football players.

Hockey players Q-Collar test

Researchers asked 15 players to wear the experimental Q-Collar during the first half of the season. Fifteen players were divided into two groups: there were ones who wore the collar and the rest did not use it, accelerometers helped researchers determining which players will use the collar and those who won’t. Every single head impact was measured and recorded.

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans before, during and after the trial period registered changes in the brain’s matter. Those players who did not wear the collar suffered significant brain injuries, unlike those who wore it whose brain injuries were reduced or ameliorated.

Also, researchers measured brain’s microstructure and its performance at the beginning and the end of the season. Players who used the collar did not present significant differences, but those who played without the experimental device had enough substantial changes.

The findings regarding hockey players Q-collar test were published in the journal Frontiers in Neurology and Neurotrauma.

Football players Q-Collar test

Concerning the football study, researchers followed 21 players from St. Xavier High School’s football team and other 21 from Moeller High School football team through the 2015 season. Players from St. Xavier High School were selected to wear the collar and those from Moeller High School played without it.

Similarly to the hockey study, player’s brain impacts were measured with accelerometers located at the helmets. A player who wore the collar showed little alterations on their brain’s white matter. On the contrary, the player from Moeller High School presented significant brain injuries.

Brain’s structure and functioning were measured at the beginning and the end of the season. The study was published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

Q-collar reduces brain injuries in sports performance

As per the results showed in both studies, Tom Hoey, co-founder of Q30 Innovations said: “These groundbreaking studies show early evidence Q30’s Q-Collar was effective to significantly reduce injury to the brain resulting from sports-related blows to the head. These are important findings that warrant continued research of this potential major advance in reducing the occurrence of brain injuries.”

Moreover, Dr. Greg Myer, director of sports medicine research at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital stated that the results of MRI scans of both, the hockey and football studies, showed a potential approach to protecting brain’s microstructure from injuries sustained during sports performance. Myer added that even if the experimental device must continue to be tested, the results obtained so far indicate that the collar might be a real game-changer for athletes in high impact sports.

While helmets have been used since 1893, their primary function is providing an external protection of the skull, but they do not protect the brain of possible long-term consequences. Helmets are useful while reducing lacerations and avoiding skull fractures, however, their protection does not reach other important regions of the head: brain’s white matter.

According to Myer, the Q-collar will create an artificial airbag for player’s brain inside the skull.

Source: Q30 Innovations