The Q-Collar aims to save your brain from concussions, goes on sale in Canada

While player-related safety across all sports is focused on protecting athletes’ heads with better helmets, a small, almost unseen device could provide an answer on how to better prevent brain-related injuries.

The Neuroshield, as it is marketed and sold in Canada, is called the Q-Collar in the U.S. It is going through human trials while under review by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration before it can see commercial release stateside. The device draws biomimicry inspiration from a woodpecker ,wrapping around the user’s neck as a way to increase blood volume (like an airbag) in the skull to help stabilize the brain when it’s impacted by sudden movement.

The idea came from the mind Dr. David Smith, and was developed with Connecticut-based Q30 Innovations after Smith spent nine months studying woodpeckeras and other animals that are capable of withstanding repeated high-impact blows to the head. Among his discoveries was that nature developed a way for certain animals to change the pressure inside of their head.

“It’s just unbelievable to see what nature evolution has done to bring the tongue up over the top of its beak, up over the top of its skull back around the back underneath its ears,” Smith told ESPN about the woodpecker’s ability to use its tongue to change its cranial pressure.

But the device still has its detractors. Eric Nauman, a professor of biomedical engineering and basic medical science at Purdue University, has his doubts on whether or not the Q-Collar is beneficial.

“We actually did not pursue this one because we had concerns about the idea of pressing on the [jugular] vein, especially in an uncontrolled way,” he told ESPN. “I would just be too nervous something bad is going to happen.”

Although it has yet to see widespread use, Carolina Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly is the first known NFL player to wear the device, although given its experimental stage, he can’t say much about it, according to The Charlotte Observer. Kuechly began wearing the device this season after missing six games in 2016 with a concussion. Despite wearing the device during the 2017 season, Kuechly suffered another concussion during a game on Thursday, October 12.

While football players are the most obvious sector to potentially make use of the device, it may see adoption across all sports and workplaces. NASCAR driver Brad Keselowski, for one, wants to test it out.

“If Q-Collar does what the company believes it can do,” Keselowski told SportsTechie, “it will change the face of sports dramatically.”

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