While sports like soccer help promote physical fitness and build important skills like teamwork, there is also the risk of injury. There are steps soccer players can take to prevent injuries, like warming up with five to 10 minutes of light aerobic activity and doing plenty of stretching. But a new study found that there may be a way to prevent more serious injuries, like concussions and brain injuries.
A new collar, developed by Q30 Innovations, may be the key to preventing brain injuries during soccer games. The collar works by applying pressure to the back of the neck, which encourages the artery in the neck to backfill the brain with blood. This added blood then acts as a cushion to help prevent the brain from moving too much when subjected to impact.
Researchers at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center are currently testing the effectiveness of the collar. And according to Dr. David Smith, a visiting research scientist at the Children’s Hospital, the scientists decided to take notes from nature when looking to solve this issue.
“If a woodpecker could repeatedly hit its head and not sustain any head injury, why couldn’t this be applied to humans,” Smith explained.
To test the effectiveness of the collar, the researchers conducted a study with 46 girls between the ages of 14 and 18. The girls played in high school soccer programs on two different teams — only one team was asked to wear the collars. To show any difference the collars made, the members of the youth soccer leagues were asked to have brain scans both at the beginning and the end of the season. The soccer coaches trained their players as they normally would.
After the season of soccer training and games was over, the brain scans found that the brains of the team who had worn the collars showed no damage from head impacts while the scans of the players without the collars did show signs of damage.
Concussions and brain injuries are all too common, especially among soccer players. While seemingly minor at the time, these injuries can have long-term effects on cognitive functioning. So any added protection, like this collar, can be seen as extremely beneficial.
While more testing needs to be done on the collar, soccer coaches, parents, and players should all take precautionary steps to protect player’s heads in the meantime.